Outdoor Gear Blog - CheapTents

CheapTents Outdoor Gear Blog

…not just tents…a camping equipment blog too!

With summer is fast approaching so are the dreaded midges, which have to be one of the most annoying creatures on this planet.  While they’re hardly dangerous, they can be annoying and leave you with a few nasty bite marks.

Midge close up: source imarsman - flickr

Midge close up: source imarsman - flickr

The term Midge doesn’t refer to a specific insect it is a general term for very small (about 3mm) flies. There are about 40 midge species in the UK but very few which bite humans. The most common of these biting midges is the Culicoides Impunctatus otherwise known as the infamous highland midge.

In the case of the Culicoides Impunctatus both the female and the male are vegetarians, until the female becomes pregnant and then like many human females she develops cravings, in this case for blood. The female must get a blood meal two to five days after being fertilised to give the offspring a good chance of survival.

Midge Repellents

Repellents protect you in two ways. They repel midges from a distance by masking the smell of your body so that they can’t find you so easily. The second way they protect is by changing taste of the skin to make you seem like a much less tasty snack. A good repellent should provide both these types of protection.

Chemical Midge Repellents

DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide) is one of the most popular and effective chemicals used in midge repellent however some people experience irritation or an allergic reaction to the chemical. If swallowed DEET is toxic you should careful when applying to the hands or face.

DEET enters your bloodstream through the skin. In some rare cases people will suffer side effects from the chemical ranging from rashes to severe muscle twitching. As a precaution manufacturers recommend that DEET should not be applied to areas of broken skin or around the eyes.
DEET is an effective solvent and may dissolve some plastics, rayon, spandex, other synthetic fabrics and leather so make sure to take care when applying the repellent to your new waterproof jacket.

Natural Midge Repellents

Natural midge repellents use various essential oils like Eucalyptus, lavender and lemon to achieve the same aim. Peoples results with these generally vary although the main benefit is that they are much less likely to cause a reaction or any long term damage. The final plus point is that they make you smell nice, which is always a plus after a few days hiking.

Midges at sunset : source mavska - flickr

Midges at sunset : source mavska - flickr

Other ways to avoid midge bites

Aside from commercial insect repellents, there are 100′s of ways that people claim will prevent the midge from attacking. I’ve listed some of my favourite below, although some may be more effective than others.

  • Cover up bare skin. Long sleeved shirts and trousers will help. Insects can bite through tight fitting clothing so wear loose garments. It has been shown that dark colours attract biting insects much more than light colours.
  • Avoid being out around dawn and dusk as this is when midges are at their most active.
  • Many people claim that Avon’s Skin So Soft Body Oil is a very effective repellant and there have been stories in the past citing its use by large numbers of the British army.
  • Eating Marmite before and during your time near midges is also meant to repel them although I’d personally rather take my chances with the midges than have to eat Marmite.
  • Make friends with bats! A single bat can eat over 3000 midges and other insects in one night!

How does everyone else keep midges at bay, leave a comment and let us know!

CheapTents Outdoor Gear Reviews

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!
  • http://www.cheaptents.com Daniel

    I shall be trying the Marmite thing, since Marmite is great and midges really get on my nerves.

  • Dave Hughes

    I’ve just been to Fort William for the MTB World Cup and didn’t appreciate the term “eaten alive by midges” until then. Suddenly everyone’s telling me about Skin So Soft (so much so I thought it was Scotland’s best kept secret). I’ll be trying that and the Marmite (yum) tip next time I go up there.

  • karanne

    Midges very bad this year in Yorkshire, can’t leave windows open after dusk! Although smothered in ‘skin so soft’ and eating marmite, they are still biting!

  • ek

    i found a flamethrower to be most effective. (napalm if you can get it).

  • http://www.bb4x4adventurecampingclub.com Peter Eastwood

    Best repelant i`ve found is Wrights Coal Tar soap, wash exposed areas of skin in warm water and use the soap, let the skin air dry rather than towel it dry and wipe off the smell.
    Take a shower and use the soap all over, but you can dry with a towel, just wash the areas that you leave exposed again with the soap and leave to air dry, ie; hands, face, neck, ankles.
    It always works for me and i`ve camping in some really midge infested places.
    Hope it helps, the are the biggest pain for us campers.

  • Ross Slater

    Skin so soft is crap compared to a proper repellent. In America where it has been marketed as a repellent, it has been shown in the trials to be ineffective compared to other compounds.

  • http://blog.cheaptents.com josh

    a fire

  • Marella Cairns

    A fan! The midge cannot fly in winds above 4 mph so this is ideal when you’re sitting out of an evening.

    Take vitamin b for a week before you go to midge infested areas- same as marmite but more concentrated…

    citronella candles help as does skin so soft

  • Malcolm

    Smoke a cigarette, then another, then another. They don’t bite while you’re smoking.

    Also, mint.

  • Sassinackie Campbell

    Just been to the Isle of Mull and thought we were unlucky that the first campsite we visited in Tobermory was by a stream, obviously this was the cause of our midge problem. ‘Frenzy’ doesn’t explain how bad it was. Then after two nights at our much plusher campsite in Craignure, thought we were midge free until a calm dusk on the last night and we were well and truly inundated, annihalated, obliterated by midges! I’ve never experienced anything so intense from flies before! We had two citronela candles on the go the whole time, no effect. Wore brand name repellant and a local concoction from the local ironmongers, no effect. Heard about ‘skin so soft’ on the way home (a little too late by then lol) but will try it and the coal tar soap rememdy next time. Thanks everyone for the tips!

  • Itchy

    I think I’ll have a go at these because since my parents & I returned from our holiday, we’ve been bitten like no tomorrow at home, while I barely suffered any on holiday.

    T_T It’s such a pain more than a real threat atm, but I hope they don’t start getting diseases or anything.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Tal

    Was camping in Yorkshire last week. never seen so many of the little blighters. Had 7 Citronella candles and mosi bands and jungle formula. Am itching as I write. Really rubbish. Will definitely give the other suggestions a try next time. Like the idea of Lavender, or a flame thrower.

  • alex newton

    try,skin so soft , by avon.

  • Craig Purnell

    I’ve just been camping for one night only in the Yorkshire Dales, there were about 25 of us and I was the only one to get attacked by these dreaded little monsters!!! I have been bitten over 200 times they had a real feast!! Do they only go for people with certain blood types or people with certain diets?? Or was I just unlucky?? I am now an itchy lumpy mess any help would be welcome.

  • Rosie

    I went to Australia 5 years ago and really got eaten alive by their hungry mozzys, since that time I have taken B1 and it’s worked as far as the mozzys are concerned.

    But in the last week, with the weather getting damper, the midges coming out to play, I have been bitten like no tomorrow, and the B1 doesn’t seem to be doing a thing!! Also I live by a river which doesn’t help either….moving home right now is the only option!

    I think certain people will just get bitten and certain people won’t,it’s one of those very annoying things.

  • http://blog.cheaptents.com Andy

    Hi Rosie,

    Thanks for your comment, sorry to hear about your being bitten.
    It’s true to say damp yet warm weather will cause an increase in midge population, if you are finding a particular repellent doesn’t work keep trying others as most use different chemicals to drive the blighter’s away. This said living by a river as you know isn’t going to help you. Best of luck and I hope you find a way to get the midges away soon.

  • Joe

    I was drenching my legs with OFF w/DEET in Costa Rica. Never got a mosquito bite but lots of midge bites. I hear garlic pills or vitamin B works. We shall see. I’m going back.

  • Mickshaft

    I live in the Dales… they seem to be so much worse here than anywhere else I’ve been!!
    For some reason, they seem to be attracted to me far more than other people. My friends love it when I’m sat with them outside the pub on a summer evening as the midge’s stay clear of them. They fly past everyone else in order to get to me!! It doesn’t help that I also have a really bad reaction to them. Terrible weals, nausea and general feeling of unwell. This is not good considering that their main feeding grounds are mainly: forearms (sometimes up to 100), legs, in and behind the ears (VERY painful), scalp (very uncomfortable) and I have even been known to have bites on my eyelids!! I HATE the things! I’m almost certain that there has to be some reason why they are attracted to some people more then others. I must taste FANTASTIC!!

    As for remedies, I’ve tried almost everything!! Jungle formula and citronella candles were suggested… they had no effect whatsoever. The doctor said it’s been known that taking an anti-histamine once a day throughout summer has been known to help… that didn’t make a great deal of difference. The only thing that has shown signs of helping… although not entirely, is smothering myself in skin so soft, covering as much skin as humanly possible and smoking profusely. Not the nicest remedy but it works! If you don’t smoke, follow the smokers… stick to them like glue!! It really helps!!

  • Charlotte

    Some of the tips here are really useful. Although I think I’d rather get bitten that eat Marmite, as one of the earlier comments suggested! I find the best insect repellent for me is OnGuard, which is a DEET free insect repellent. It smells good too! It’s brilliant as a miadge repellent, and also keeps the mozzies away too.

  • OZZY ROD

    I Agree, some really good tips. I live in Australia on the East Coast where the midges are fierce.I’ve found a product called “Bushmans” works pretty good.Also as someone else suggested a fan is effective. For relief of midge and mosquito bites I’ve found vicks (menthol) chest rub to take away the stinging itch. Hopefully this help someone… Happy camping! from OZ.

  • Dave

    Allright craig now ive been told from a friend of mine to rub guiness on your skin now I dont know if this works or not cos ive not tried it (sounds mad) but if there is any alternatives out there I would like to know as Im taking my nephew  wild camping in june.Hope this might help????

  • Will Mcleod93

    Another good way i have found is smoking. I wouldn’t recommend you start up just to keep midges at bay as there are a lot of down sides to smoking but if you and your friends are all ok with it then the smoke seems to agitate and repel them pretty well

  • Erik S

    Just back from Mull. Bloody midges everywhere. We’ve tried everything and i have found the only thing that really works is Lifesystems Expedition Plus 100+ Deet Insect Repellent. the buggers die in mid air when they come near you. Fan bloody tastic!!! Being 100+ DEET, there are warnings that come with it. Dont spray on clothes, waterproofs, boots etc as it will burn them. lol. Can cause rashes but i have been ok so far. used it for 3 years now without any health issues. I have put on wieght and lost my hair but i put that down to old age. Lol. All kidding aside, it is really good.
    All the best

    Erik

  • Chris Bowler

    yeast tablets from the chemist may help
     

  • Tref

    Is it only Avon skin so soft that works or are there any other body lotions that do the job? I’m off to Mull tomorrow and didn’t realise you can’t buy Avon stuff in supermarkets?

  • The Pipstar

    Just came back from a wk at Rainbow Beach and am covered in midgie bites.  The Bushmans was great but we didn’t discover it until 48 hours later!! nothing else worked.  Now Vicks?? I may give it a try, thanks!!

  • Charleigh37

    hi i have 24 bites and cant fine anything that works what is the best out of them thanks

  • Jassboyuk

    I think I am in the same boat as you – I live in London and have my bedroom direct to the garden and I wake most mornings with bits on my head, arms and back.  I have tried about everything going but have not had any luck – even spent so much money or tablets from the holistic approach and still the little buggers come.  Skin So Soft was suggested but Avon say you can’t get it here and they won’t ship.

  • bitten

    im seriously allergic to their bites everything gets infected. you can spray them with doom they just shake their wings and off they go. Have been using coaltar cream to try and get rid of the infection, so if it also helps to keep it away i will be absolutely grateful. unfortunately i have not been able to find a coaltar soap, but ill put the stuff in my bath water if it will help. thanks for all the advice, this is the only site i have found with anything usefull. i hate the little pests.

  • Gibbsanalysis

    There may be help on the way, as a new book has been released to book selling sites. The book is called, “Beyond Bed Bugs”. Definetly has some insights as never before on dealing with biting midges that are also attacking horses and humans as they are migrating further than ever imagined. These pests are now invading beyond Southern California all the way through Canada! My friends in the Phillipines are now complaining of these horrid bugs.  

  • Bjlimo

    lynx deoderant  sis a killer i use africa works a treat even mozzies dont like it 

  • http://blog.cheaptents.com Daniel

    Thanks for the tip! Does anyone else know of any deodorants that mozzies don’t like?

  • Justine

    Several years ago I was told by a West Coast (New Zealand) local to try Dettol disinfectant mixed with oil (the oil keeps the Dettol on your skin) – he swore by it but it does make you smell!  I can’t remember if it worked or not.  NZ mosquitoes love me too, and I am going to Scotland this summer so I hope to find something that works and that doesn’t make me smell too bad at the same time!

  • Stormy

     rubbish , i have smoked all my life and the misses and we get hammered by the midge even when i am smoking and with my mates who smoke , we do have them bad here in queensland Australia

  • Fwhittingham

    Try lemon grass oil from the health shop. Mix it in with your daily moisturiser. I swear by it. It’s around £5.00 but lasts ages.

  • Brian Griffen

    Has anyone heard of the repellent based on wild tomatoes? It’s suppose to be a natural repellent and is just as effective as DEETS.  Just wandering does it also work for midges as well as for mosquitoes? 

  • http://blog.cheaptents.com Daniel

    Has anyone tried using Nikwax SkitoStop Sun Screen and After Sun with  Insect Repellent? Are they any good?

  • Lorraine

    have used this in swamps in australia…yupp, it works! don´t know if it works against the dreaded midge, but will be trying it in a few days time in the highlands. whatever works eh?

  • Dalnaviefarm

     you can get coaltar soap from superdrug and boots

  • Stacey

    Vicks vapour rub both as a repellent and for the bites

  • Almeister

    This works really well, 25% dettol and 75% baby oil. Works better than Pretty much anything ive tried.

  • http://twitter.com/campinglinks CampingLinks UK

    I’ve just read this post (
    http://www.travelinsurance.org/8-must-have-apps-for-the-adventurous-camper/ ) and app no# 8 is a “bug spray” app. Basically it is an iphone app that emits a high frequency sound which deters insects such as mozi’s and midges… I have heard of plugin devices and such that do this kind of thing and reports say they work. 

    Has anyone tried such a mobile app here? and does it work?

  • Dmclaughlin114

    Does vicks vapour rub stop u from getting bite by the midges

  • Jo_flunt

    I can’t imagine that a mobile phone would have in-built speakers that would cover such a high frequency range . Would be good if this did work though!

  • Anisah

    Get an empty spray bottle mix a few drops of lavender oil with water and spray all over urself and body not only will it keep them away but u will get a great nights sleep! I just woke up one day to find it buzzing around on my face! 

  • Courtney

    Dont midges hate mint and how come they dont bite dogs as i walk mine down there at 7:30-9:30 and i get bitten and he doesnt? And how do you get rid of bites? I have tried sudocrem and germonine and antiseptic cream but none of that works the germonine takes the itching off a little ;0. Thanks ;)

  • Ste

    I’ve just read a blog where it says Catnip is a great midge and insect repellent – anyone ever tried that?

    http://www.woodlandherbs.co.uk/acatalog/natural_insect_repellents.html

  • http://www.cheaptents.com/blog Andy – Cheap Tents

    Personally we’ve not heard of that but we had heard about Rosemary and Eucalyptus oils. We love the “avoid cats” bit of advice Catnip is coupled with.

    Has anyone reading this tried catnip?

  • John Barton

    If you get Midge bites use a bite stick. It has ammonia in it and it stops the bites itching. Otherwise use skin so soft by Avon. It does work but Midges find areas that haven’t been treated so make it widespread coverage.

  • Irene Mewburn

    thank you for the advice.
    I live on a creek in Northern Brisbane, where the little midges are fierce.
    One friend suggested dishwashing liquid for the irritating itch.
    I tried it when the bites get irritating, it must neutralise the saliva somehow, which removed the itch within minutes!!!
    I will certainly give the aromatic oils and homemade remedy a try.

Ultralight tents from Vango, Vaude, MSR and more