Dealing with the plague of Sand Fleas

I paddle here in Florida (St Pete area) and have been absolutely mauled by sand fleas when I go out on early morning runs or sunset runs.

Usage of DEET is helpful, but I hate the stuff. Wondering if anyone knows a reliable natural remedy that is specificaly effective against sand fleas.

I’m not sure if I am just particularly sensitive to the beasts, but after a good attack my arms look like they have a disease afterwards - and if left untreated the bites will fester and itch for over a WEEK.


mineral oil
I assume you are calling no-see-ums/sand knats by the name sand fleas. If so.mineral oil should work. Rub it in your hair also or they will get in your scalp. When my Dad was a boy growing up in south FL they would.paint the window screens with it to keep them out the house.This was before air conditioning and everyone kept tbe windows open in summer.

I have had good luck with Cactus
Juice. DEET does not work for me against sand fleas though it works well up here in the North for blackflies and northern midges.

Adding an oil is supposed to be helpful too as Castoff suggests.

In the Water?

– Last Updated: Aug-14-13 8:55 AM EST –

This is a bit of a hijack so I apologize, but it's been bugging (huh? huh?) me. I just returned from South Walton and there were tiny midge-like critters floating on the surface of the gulf that would bite us as we passed through them. Those little suckers had a powerful chomp. They seemed to be concentrated above the seaweed clumps. Were they sand flea larvae or something? The only thing I know about sand fleas is I can catch Ladyfish and Pompano with them. Maybe their descendants were taking revenge?

Permethrin and netting
Permethrin sprayed on your clothing and head nets and gloves. The Army uses a combination of deet and permethrin. Picaridin also works but not quite as well. There are no other things that are truly effective despite all of the folk lore to the contrary.

No, that’s not a declarative sentence nor an instruction.

Get a good (i.e., no-seeum netting, NOT mosquito netting) bug hat or hat cover, and a bug shirt, possibly even bug slacks. They’ll both go a long way to alleviating you discomfort, pain, and rash. Giving them a spray of insect repellent pre-wearing them adds repellency, as does rubbing yourself with repellent, of course, and that’s needed too, because the material will lay on your skin on horizontal surfaces. A bit less comfortable and warmer approach would be to use fishing shirts and pants -also bug repellent-treated before donning.

I’d suggest one of those repellent canister, they do work, but you’ll be moving out of your protection zone with every stroke, so that would be a waste.

An Aside: when I was a kid here in Miami without AC -parents’ choice , NOT mine! But we had a pool, and we joked our “AC” was 15’X30’, 6’ at the deep end -we, too, would coat our screens with various oils -and that helps. Insects are usually repelled a bit by inorganic oils, the more mechanical-smelling (like WD-40) the better, but these days, all that’s basically unneeded in modern housing.

So get some bug clothes, at least a hat, and use repellents -I know, I know, many don’t like them especially those DEET-dependent ones -and you’ll be FAR and away better off with fewer bugs oa ALL kinds as you


-Frank in Miami

No, they’re probably punkies
Ceratopogonids, biting midges. Insects.

The sand fleas you’re thinking of are crustaceans. AKA Mole crabs.

Skin-So-Soft by Avon
Works pretty good against Sand Gnats up here in North Florida. I don’t like the way it feels or smells when you first put it on but works really well against Sand Gnats. I have tried several of the Skin-So-Soft products, oil,sun screen, etc and found that the oil works best. I carry a small bottle of it in my PFD.

Ditto skin so soft
But I just don’t like it and I feel baby oil works as well. However, I know many who do like skin so soft.