Need relief from those darn pirate bugs? It’ll take a freeze to end their marauding ways

You might be walking the plank soon, pirate bugs.

The pesky biting bugs that have been annoying folks this fall are still flying around in sizable numbers, and it will take a freeze to put a dent in their population, local entomologists say.

The area’s best chance for a freeze is next Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Valley.

Jonathan Larson, entomologist with Nebraska Extension in Omaha, said a freeze is about the only solution to the tiny bugs that deliver a surprisingly painful bite.

He said the bugs are loving the area’s mild fall weather and a first freeze that is running behind the typical schedule.

Larson said the first freeze will eliminate the majority of the pirate bugs and the first hard freeze (28 degrees) will take care of the rest.

Barbara Mayes of the National Weather Service said temperatures could dip into the low- to mid-30s by the end of next week, providing a chance for a freeze.

Larson said he’s still getting plenty of calls from the public about the bugs in backyards, pumpkin patches and parks. Jody Green of Nebraska Extension in Lincoln said the little guys are still out in big numbers in her area.

Larson said the bugs have been more prevalent than usual this fall, possibly because temperature and moisture conditions were just right this summer for their population to grow.

He said the bugs do not pose a health risk to humans or animals. Some people have no reaction to the bite, but others get swelling and redness.

Insect repellents are not always effective, he said. Some people have had luck with baby oil. Wearing long sleeves and pants instead of shorts offers protection.

And best to wear dark clothes and avoid white and yellow in particular, Larson said.

The problem with those lighter colors?

You look like a big flower.

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