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How to avoid being eaten alive by midges this summer

Nothing ruins walks or hikes in the great outdoors like an unforgiving furious swarm of midges.

Ill-prepared walkers will more likely find themselves futilely swiping them away and scratching furiously itchy bites, rather than enjoying ramble and the beautiful views on offer.

There are a number of measures that can be taken to vanquish midges, however, and we compiled some of the most effective methods.

First off, it’s important to know the conditions that midges flourish in.

Midges dehydrate quickly (due to their 2mm wingspan), so thrive in damp, overcast conditions. Hikers should relish blustery conditions, as they prefer still to windy conditions.

What are effective methods to combat midges?

Your first line of defence is an effective repellent. While the final choice is down to you , you should make sure one of four active ingredients is present. These are DEET (diethyltoluamide), IR3535 (Ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate), saltidin and citriodiol.

Midges are most active in low light conditions: dawn, dusk and overcast days so either avoid being out at these times or use a repellent. Avoid shorts and short sleeves while out in low light conditions. If conditions are particularly bad, use a head net. Midges prefer dark colours so light-coloured clothing help.

When stopping for a breather keep well clear of long vegetation in shaded areas. Once bitten by midges it is important not to aggravate your bite by scratching; an after-bite product will help with this.

If the aforementioned methods prove ineffective, there are a few unconventional methods that may offer relief.

One natural weapon against midges is bog myrtle which releases essential oils known to deter midges – try tying the plant to your hat.

If you’re camping, build a bonfire and force midges away.

Marmite always divides opinion but it may offer an unlikely solution to your midge misery. Apparently when eaten the yeast extract makes your blood less appetising, as do Vitamin B tablets.

Another edible option is chewing garlic, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Midge defence essentials

  • Insect repellent (containing DEET, IR3535, saltidin or citriodiol
  • Avoid short sleeve tops and shorts
  • Wear light-coloured clothing
  • Wear head net in particularly bad conditions
  • Avoid resting in areas with long vegetation
  • Use after bite product once bitten
  • Build a bonfire if camping (and it’s permitted)
  • Consider eating Marmite, vitamin B tablets or garlic
  • Tie bog myrtle to a hat


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