Appalachian Dialect

The No Seeums are Biting!

no seeum on computer screen

See that small little thing on my computer screen in the photo above? Its what we call a no seeum.

I was sitting out on the deck finishing my dinner while reading a book and something started biting the fire out of me. At first I ignored the stinging bites but eventually I pulled my nose out of my book and started looking at my arms.

Once I looked closely I saw the small reddish bugs crawling along my arms biting as they went to and fro.

I decided to yield the deck back to them and get back to work. As I was publishing your comments on yesterday’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test, I noticed one of the little devils had hitched a ride with me and was making its way across my computer monitor.

I’ve also heard the little biters called red bugs. What do you call them? And please tell me how something so teensy tiny could possible have such a painful bite.

Last night’s video: Chapter 2 of Mountain Path.


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  • Reply
    Wyatt Firebaugh
    January 2, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    Eastern Kentucky, always heard nosee’ems and chiggers. We’d get eat up with chiggers if you stayed outside too long.

  • Reply
    Charity Dutton
    September 30, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    I do recall we’d get chiggers if we went fishing, or into deep weeds. My daddy called a particular weed that bloomed the most beautiful white flowers, chigger weeds because they’d live in there. They tended to like to imbed their bodies into groan areas and the trunk- and the only way to stop them from laying eggs and staying was to put clear nail polish over the top and it “suffocated” them. Boy would they itch! The red bugs I recall on a short stent in Georgia.

  • Reply
    Joan Owen
    August 30, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    Tipper, I lived in southwest Oklahoma my younger days and Dad would have us put coal oil around our ankles so the chiggers wouldn’t climb up our pants leg when in grass and in cotton fields.Mama would have me go to clothes line to hang up sheets,towels and again more coal oil around legs and sometime they still bite you and Dad put put bluing or bleach on the bites.I don’t miss those bugs at all we don’t have them in Nevada,but we do have some earthquakes .Enjoy your stories so much my Mama was raised in Tennessee and so many words I’ve heard you say she did also.Thanks

  • Reply
    Lori Hughes
    August 29, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    We have no seeums here in Nova Scotia as well. I remember they used to bite, especially when I was a child but not so much anymore! Maybe because of some medications I take. I can’t think of any other reason. When I have my tablet on at night with no other lights, they will land on it. They fit through the screen on the windows so there’s no stopping them. Thankfully there aren’t many.

  • Reply
    Walter Sloan
    August 29, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    In Middle Tennessee, we have a critter that looks and bites like the “noseeums” . We call them “chiggers” and their bite itches and leaves red spots. An old remedy for them was to eat a bite of Sulphur. When you began to sweat in the hot weather, it will keep the “chiggers” away as well as most folks near you.

  • Reply
    August 29, 2021 at 11:29 am

    They’re called Mee-mees in Puerto Rico, and our families would send us Avon Skin-So-Soft, which made an excellent repellant. Their bites were very painful and the itching was as miserable as poison ivy.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 28, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    There are some tiny black ants that will sting the pee out of you. It feels like a yellow jacket sting but it don’t hurt as long. I say sting because that’s what it feels like to me, it could be a bite. I know they will get inside your clothes and sting you when you least expect it. And where you least expect it.

  • Reply
    April powell - apcadd80
    August 28, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    As I was reading the applesauce cake recipe you had posted previously I noticed the same bug on my iPad screen as I had been in the garden picking the last tomatoes of the year. Then to my surprise I saw your most recent pop with a bug on your screen lololol. How do you keep these bugs off you? They go to town on me. I will itch the entire night. Going to take a shower and change clothes. I have lye soap I make and hopefully that will clear me of the pest.

    • Reply
      April powell
      August 28, 2021 at 5:47 pm

      *post* not pop. Spell check gets me 100 times a day..sorry

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 28, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    What a treat to listen to your reading of Mountain Path Chapter 2! Mrs. Arnow’s accuracy on the speech, the manners & the vivid descriptions of people and place coupled with your unhestitating reading gave me a mental movie. I could just picture it all. I laughed so hard at how her adventure is panning out. Every time it seems it couldn’t get worse, it does. And I know that country. When she speaks of pines it means the rugged sandstone cliff country of the Cumberland Plateau. She started out, I expect, at Somerset the county seat of Pulaski County. That is limestone ground. But along about what she calls “High Rock” the bus was climbing the edge of the Plateau.

    At the time and place she wrote of, where she was going was in the far southwestern corner of Pulaski County, probably thirty rough road miles from the county seat. It was also at least as far from the county seats of the two adjacent counties; Wayne Co. to the west and Whitley Co. to the east. But in each of their cases, it was also on the far side of a major river. Until the creation of a separate county in 1912, that area was a bit of a no-man’s land.

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    August 28, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Florida has lots of all those critters! The Yellow Flies do me in though! But Tipper I Love the book I you so wonderfully read to us! I cannot wait till Chapter 3!

  • Reply
    August 28, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    I call then noseeums and like Patricia Price I believe they are midges. Those nasty little boogers make me itch for awhile after biting but not as bad as chiggers.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    Ugh! Every year when the critters and varmints start I wonder why I looked forward to Summer. At least in the Winter you can curl up with your hot soup, and nothing comes along to ruin your day. I have always loved outdoors, so have been bit by everything imaginable. I think chiggers and yellow jackets are the worst. We always put clear nail polish on chigger bites, and hunted down the yellow jacket nests late evening then attack the nest after dark. If we survived this, the poison oak was sure to get us. I have a Summer survival box, and I keep clear nail polish, Caladryl, Benadryl tabs, hornet blaster, Lava soap, and my all around favorite is Deep Woods Off which protects skin from bug bites, but it also will clean build up off headlights. The Lava soap cuts down on how damaging a bout of Poison Oak is, because it washes away a lot of the oil that causes the breakout. It makes for a milder breakout. One must bathe immediately when you come in from a possible exposure. One product I rub on for garden is Skin So Soft by Avon It is not toxic, and it will sure keep mosquitoes at bay. You sure don’t smell like a flower! I used to share with my neighbor because it worked great. These bugs come from nowhere it seems, and I got bit ths year by something that made big red knots and my eyes hurt for a day. I suspect spider.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    The no see ums get me when I take the dog out for his last trip of the night.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2021 at 10:40 am

    I was always warned of chiggers, teeny tiny, red specks of a bug that could cause intense itching. Thankfully the many, many times I was down south I never got into them. I was on a beach down in Pensacola and realized I was getting bit by something so tiny I could hardly see them. There they called the sand fleas no seeums. I sure got off that beach pretty fast. I hope you can get them off your porch so you can enjoy it, instead of them enjoying it.

  • Reply
    Georgia Styer
    August 28, 2021 at 10:36 am

    CHIGGERS! On a trip through the NC coastline, we stopped to admire a lighthouse along the way. When we returned to our vehicle, our daughter began scratching like crazy. She had been attacked by “something red,” she stated! We all inspected the site(s) and discovered minute, hungry, and intense little critters we had never seen before. She was in a lot of pain with itching! We asked around and were told they were chiggers! I had heard of chiggers before in my home state of Georgia, but had never experienced them. As a child, I remember my mama telling me to stay away from “such and such”or I would get chiggers! Mamas know best! BTW, we don’t visit lighthouses up close anymore, lol!

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    August 28, 2021 at 10:36 am

    Three things I wish had not boarded the ark: chiggers, no-seeums, and yellow flies. We could have done without them…but maybe they are here to keep us sufficiently humble.

  • Reply
    Jane ODell
    August 28, 2021 at 10:29 am

    Oops…my comment disappeared…anyway… we call em red bugs (b/c they’re red). Down at the beach, the black ones are just as bad and we call them no see-ums. Either species will bit the fire out of you and leave a bite that itches for over a week!

  • Reply
    August 28, 2021 at 9:31 am

    O I hate chiggers. Get them about every day. My grandsons got ate up with them. They have a new cream out for them and it works. Its actually call Chiggers cream. You can get it at Walmart. They are little devils.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2021 at 9:18 am

    I have never heard them call no seeums. The Bug Bite Thing works great to plunge out the venom from bee stings and spider bites while it also stops the itch and pain instantly. I’m thankful bugs don’t bite me like they do other family members.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 28, 2021 at 9:03 am

    I reckon “red bugs” is the common southern name for chiggers. I never heard that growingvup. We just called them chiggers. We didn’t use nail polish. We used a kerosene dampened rag or, at my Grandmas, a clump of pennyrile (pennyroyal). Like a lot of peiple, I wouldn’t know a chigger until, as the saying goes, “it bit me” only I still wouldn’t know what they really look like up close.

    Incidentally, down on Jekyl Island on the Georgia coast a person can rent a red golfcart-like vehicle to buzz around in. They call them “Red Bugs”. They say to that the Spanish moss is a favorite place of the red bugs.

  • Reply
    Bill (GoodGriefLouise)
    August 28, 2021 at 8:56 am

    Yep here in Texas they are referred to as Chiggers. Little red tiny spider shaped devils can make you miserable if they latch on in any numbers.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    August 28, 2021 at 8:37 am

    Where I grew up “no-see-ums” were very small greyish-black flying insects. Their bite was painful. You did not know they were around until they bit you. A red bug was just that a very very small red bug that got on you when you brushed against a bush. They would attach them selves to you and form a red whelp where they were attached. You could kill the red bug by putting fingernail polish over he place where they were attached. It would take several days for the whelps to go away. That is why I did not mind gnats; at least they did not bite you or cause whelps on you.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    August 28, 2021 at 8:21 am

    What you have is chiggers, lady friend. They’re tiny, look like you described, and are literally everywhere outside especially concrete, porch furniture, etc. Their bites are fierce and a dab of nail polish smothers them out if they get under your skin. You’ll know it’s chiggers if they get at your waist (where pants and shirts meet near delicate skin.) We have tiny black fliers here in southern WV that will light and bite the tar out of you! I have DEET free spray and of course Simply Soft by Avon is the best against bugs but who even sells it here anymore I do not know. Good luck and death to chiggers!!!!

  • Reply
    Pastor Lon
    August 28, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Well as far as what we call red bugs I’ve never actually seen one that I know of rather just the red itchy bump that comes up on your skin. But we do say No Seeums to describe pretty much any of those little insects like a very small flea or what we call a sand flea that are very very small Teeny Tiny as you described that you don’t know they are there until they BITE THE FIRE OUT OF YOU lol Btw we use that phrase as well.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 28, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Is No Seeums their real name or just a description? I don’t like the little bitty criters that sneak up and devour me.

  • Reply
    Patricia Price
    August 28, 2021 at 6:49 am

    I do not know about no-see-ums, which it seems are midges. But the bane of berry-picking in Appalachia for me is the CHIGGER. That’s what we also call red bugs. My mother would paint each bite mark with clear fingernail polish to make the itching stop.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    August 28, 2021 at 6:24 am

    If those things were the size of a grain of corn, they would rule the world!

    • Reply
      August 28, 2021 at 7:41 am

      Larry-I sure believe it!

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    August 28, 2021 at 6:16 am

    Noseeums here, redbugs are another name we use for chiggers as they leave a red spot on the middle of thr bite. Both bugs are enough to drive you mad when they start biting

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    August 28, 2021 at 6:12 am

    I had a friend that called them “flying teeth” because he said for the bite of something that small to hurt so badly, they had to be ALL teeth.

    • Reply
      August 28, 2021 at 7:41 am

      Sanford-that’s the perfect name!

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