Nobody wants to be bugged while at the beach, whether by hawkers or actual bugs. Sand fleas are a species of beach pests that has the potential to derail your plans. They ruin your mood and cause itchiness and, more concerningly, many diseases.
That is why it is critical to understand how to get rid of them quickly. Fortunately, there are tips on how to repel sand fleas available, which we’ll go over in this article.
What Are Sand Fleas?
The term “sand flea” is somewhat perplexing because it refers to several different types of pests. Members of the Talitridae family are among them, and they are tiny crustaceans that resemble fleas because of their hopping stride and size.
There’s a lot of misconception about these little creatures on the internet, but one thing you don’t have to worry about is their bites because sand hoppers (another name for them) don’t feed on human blood.
Chigoes, also known as sand fleas, are less harmless due to their habit of burrowing in a person’s feet, causing tungiasis. They do, however, prefer to live in the tropics and Africa.
Sand fleas are also known as beach fleas and sand bugs. These are all umbrella terms for various families and species that have one thing in common: they live mostly in sandy areas, such as river banks and beaches.
The majority of the species in this category are very small, typically three millimeters long — hence the name no-see-ums, which refers to certain types of sand fleas. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the critters have very thin, long legs, and their rather hairy wings stand up to form a V shape when resting. Their color varies depending on the species.
The female, like mosquitoes, bites humans because it requires a blood meal to lay eggs. Unfortunately, because some insects carry Leishmania and other disease-causing microorganisms, this feeding habit leads the insects to spread infection. The great news is that these instances are uncommon.
Indications of a Sand Flea Infestation
Most of the time, you’ll see the tiny pests or get bitten before you notice them. They normally stay close to the ground, so lower legs are particularly vulnerable. Nothing, however, will stop the critters from feasting on your entire body if they discover you in a lying position.
There will most likely be pain when sand fleas bury their long mouthpiece in the skin. It causes a small reddish bump that can become extremely itchy and swollen. Blisters can also form, increasing the likelihood of skin infections.
It’s therefore critical that you avoid scratching the affected area at all costs, even if it takes a lot of effort. Sand flea bites on people are typically grouped.
How to Protect Yourself from Sand Fleas
Remember that sand fleas aren’t insects and are not repelled or deterred by common insect repellents and insecticides. Most specialists advise simply avoiding sand fleas by avoiding the beach at dawn, dusk, and night.
Bring a blanket you can lay on when resting in the sand and avoid combing through wet sand or putting your hands beneath shells or stones along the shoreline if you go to the beach.
Best Repellents for Repelling Sand Fleas
You’ll want to get one of the best sand flea repellents to defend yourself from itchy bites and infections. We’ve compiled a catalog of the best bug repellents, ranging from all-natural options to the most potent options on the market.
Whether you call them no-see-ums, sand flies, or beach fleas, there’s bound to be a repellent below to keep you bite-free.
Use a DEET-based spray if you want the most effective bug repellent available. While it is far from natural and effective, DEET is an effective repellant for sand fleas. Furthermore, DEET has been researched for decades, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that it poses no health risks.
This is an active ingredient that can repel biting flies (such as sand fleas), deer ticks, mosquitoes, and body lice. The EPA and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have determined that IR3535 is safe.
However, it is mostly thought to be less effective than DEET. As with all synthetic bug repellants, it is also crucial not to over-apply IR3535 — which can be tough because it is frequently combined with sunscreens that must be reapplied every two hours.
Bug sprays with plant oils may be your best bet for a more natural way of repelling sand fleas. Citronella is a widely known sand flea repellant, and lemongrass repels sand fleas naturally. Lemon eucalyptus oil is commonly used to repel sand fleas and other biting insects.
While the EPA has not evaluated essential oils for bug effectiveness, it has tested them for safety and concluded that they pose no risk to human health.
This may sound strange, but New Zealanders, familiar with sand fleas, say it may help you avoid sand flea bites. Marmite is high in vitamin B, which helps keep sand fleas at bay. Marmite could be a good way to avoid fleas without spraying anything on your skin if you can tolerate the taste.
How to Prevent Sand Flea Bites
- Wear DEET (N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) insect repellent and reapply it frequently throughout the day, particularly on high-target areas such as ankles and feet.
- Avoid going to the beach at dusk, early morning, or when there is a cloud cover, and the beach is cooler because that is when sand fleas are most active.
- Because sand fleas aren’t strong fliers, windy days are better beach days for avoiding them.
- Stay away from the beach immediately after it rains because the cooler, moist conditions promote sand flea activity.
- Visit the beach in the late afternoon or early morning, when the sand fleas are less active.
- Keep moving if you’re on the beach during prime sand-flea hours: They’re not particularly fast, but they’ll swarm you if you linger too long.
- Avoid lying or sitting directly on the sand; instead, use a blanket or a lounge chair.
- When possible, cover your ankles, feet, and calves.
- If you’re staying near the beach, keep doors and windows closed at night—sand fleas can sometimes go through screens.
Sand fleas are a group of pesky species that leave painful, itchy, and potentially infected bites. They prefer cool, damp environments, so going to the beach first thing in the morning isn’t the best idea. But with effective bug-repelling solutions, you’ll be fine!