Mynd: Erling Ólafsson - Náttúrufræðistofnun Íslands
The notorious lúsmý (Culicoides reconditus), a species of biting midge that has colonised Iceland for the first time in the past few years, has been a hot (and itchy) topic once again this summer, as its advance across the country continues apace.
The sneaky flies are now common in South Iceland, west of Markarfljót, in West Iceland (though not the Westfjords or Snæfellsnes), and also in parts of North Iceland including Húnaþing, Skagafjörður, Eyjafjörður, and east to Fnjóskadalur. They might be found in all regions within a few more summers.
According to a new poll, around 30 percent of people in Iceland believe they have been bitten by lúsmý.
According to the poll results, reported on in Fréttablaðið, women and younger people are the most likely to be bitten.
The tiny flies can cause severe reactions, with large, sore, itchy spots that can remain angry for a week or more, and sometimes spread into a sort of rash.
Insect specialist Gísli Már Gíslason has a scrap of good news, however: people’s physical response seems to become less severe the more often they are bitten. This is true of lúsmý and most other types of insect bites. In other words, the flies are a major nuisance now, as people are being bitten for the first time, but could become less of a problem with time.