Stokes: Don't let those nasty sand gnats ruin your time outdoors

rodcrafter@islc.netJune 8, 2013 

A common presence in the Lowcountry during times of outdoor activities are "no see ums." The moniker refers to that little pest with teeth: the sand gnat.

There are a number of such gnats in the Lowcountry, and as with most insects that bite, moist habitat such as our area features is necessary for their survival. These tiny midges are a nuisance to fishermen, hunters, campers and anyone who spends time in the out of doors.

Although weak-winged and susceptible to the slightest breeze, the sheer number of these little buggers can be overwhelming to the new and unaccustomed. Veterans of the area seem to have a type of immunity not granted visitors. For the most part, we simply ignore them as much as possible or avoid the times they are most active, which is early morning and evenings. Quick swatters may enjoy the challenge, but to many it is the epitome of frustration.

It is the female of the species that does the biting, and their cutting teeth have ruined many an outing as well as added a few choice words to an otherwise guarded vocabulary.

If you enjoy spending time outdoors, it is best to avoid still, cloudy evenings in spring and summer, and it would be wise to take a few precautions. Even with their short life span, their sheer numbers show little decline in the power of the swarm.

A few pointers to make your outdoor time more enjoyable:

  • Avoid periods after rains; trees and moist ground are prime real estate for the breeders and can ruin an otherwise pleasant outing.

  • The use of outdoor fans is one such practice I endorse whenever I am socializing or just want to enjoy an evening beverage on the porch.

  • Sprays are many, and seem to deter the weak and slight feeders among the group. For the determined, no amount of lotions or sprays will deter their efforts.

  • Enjoy your time with a bit less frustration and take steps to ensure your time outside is as enjoyable as possible.


    Even with the wind and rain, fishing seems to beat out all other choices.

    Active offshore and inshore fish include; Dolphin, Spottail Bass, Flounder, Spots, Blackfish, Spadefish, Trout, Cobia and numerous shark species. Artificial baits have made their mark presently, but if inshore species is your quarry, be sure to include mud minnows, shrimp and squid in your arsenal.

    The best catches prior to the big rain and winds were along island creeks and grass croppings. Offshore, the Betsy Ross is favored, as are the channel buoys in Port Royal Sound.


    The deadline for S.C. Department of Natural Resources online applications for the 2013 Public Alligator Hunting season and the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Alligator Hunting Season is June 15.

    The DNR will closely monitor these hunts, and harvest regulations may be modified for future seasons.

    Please check the DNR website at www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/alligator/index.html for changes and updates.


    Tom Kester has been named the winner of the 2012 South Carolina Environmental Awareness Award. Mr. Kester, who serves as chairman and treasurer of the non-profit Conestee Foundation, was recognized for his volunteer efforts as part of the Foundation to acquire an old mill lake bed and turn it into a wildlife refuge and nature park for public use. The S.C. General Assembly established the S.C. Environmental Awareness Award in 1992. It is now in its 20th year recognizing outstanding contributions made toward the protection, conservation and improvement of South Carolina's natural resources.

    The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

    Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service