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How to Survive the Midge!
Since I spend nearly every day in the summer outside in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, I have had more than my fair share of midge bites! However, over the years I have found some of the best ways of dealing with these maddening beasties and am happy to reveal how successful different tactics are at fighting them.
How to Avoid Midge Bites
Keep on Moving - Firstly, take a simple approach….walk! When you are walking the midges will not bother you at all. So if you are on a walking holiday they are actually not a problem. You will see very few midges and rarely be bitten when on the move, however at some point you have to stop and as soon as you do they will find you almost instantly.
Use the Weather - When it is time for lunch or a water stop, they will instantly swarm around you unless you take advantage of a few natural features, mainly wind and sun. When you stop, try to stop in the wind. Just a very slight breeze stops midges from flying and they will not bother you at all. If there is no wind then stand or sit in the direct sun. For some reason they don’t like direct, strong sun. You will be able to spot thousands in the shade but rarely will they venture into the sun, even if you are just a metre away from them!
Cover Up - Just keep it simple by making sure your arms and legs are covered to stop them biting you. They won’t bite through clothing so just a long t-shirt and trousers easily stops them.
Protect the Face - Midge nets usually come in the form of a head net. They are available in many outdoor shops and online and all do a very similar job. They are literally a big net that covers your head and helps to stop them getting to your face. A top tip when wearing one is to wear a sun hat underneath the midge net, they feel much less claustrophobic.
If wearing a midge net, trousers and a long sleeve t-shirt isn't enough you may need to get the repellent out. There are three main types on the market and I have reviewed them below:
Smidge - a well-known repellent that comes with a good reputation. I have tried it a few times, but I find it really doesn’t work well for walkers at all. I cannot comment on its ability to repel midges simply because it doesn’t stay on you long enough to find out. When I have used it I sweat it off within minutes of applying it. It may be great if you are not walking, but I only use it when doing outdoor activities and it just sweats straight off (and for the record I don’t sweat a lot!)
DEET Based Repellents - these are easily available at most outdoor shops. They usually have a DEET percentage on the packaging very clearly displayed (e.g. 50% DEET) or DEET will be listed in the ingredients. DEET repellents work very, very well, they kill all midges as soon as they make contact, however, they are not my repellent of choice. Yes they destroy midges but they destroy a lot of other things too. My watch, many of my tents, waterproof jackets, necklaces and even the plastic bag I keep it in! Personally I don’t really want that sort of product on my skin all day!
Avon Skin-So-Soft - is my product of choice. Avon Skin So Soft was not designed as a repellent for midges, it is a moisturiser that happens to be an amazing repellent by chance. I don’t sweat it off, it stops all midges on contact and it doesn’t destroy my watch! I cannot recommend this product enough and I never go walking without it!
If you are prepared midges shouldn’t be a problem or ruin a walk. When I walk in peak midge season I am very rarely bothered by midges, I just follow the simple tips above and have only been bitten once so far this year.
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