Sand flies, also known as biting midge, have been accosting Icelanders earlier this spring than in past years, RÚV reports. The bugs are known to prey on humans and animals while they’re asleep, and their painful bites cause itchy lesions. Insect specialist Erling Ólafsson told Vísir the unseasonably warm weather in South and West Iceland could have something to do with the bugs’ apparent prevalence.
Sand flies are not entirely new to Iceland, though a noticeable spike in their populations was first reported in Fréttablaðið in 2015. The bugs appear to be most established in Southwest and West Iceland, where they tend to stick to sheltered, overgrown locations. Some have attempted to prevent bug bites by installing window screens or running fans in their bedrooms at night, as the insects appear more active in still air. Sand flies are tiny and not easily seen, but their bites are said to be more painful than those of mosquitoes.