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Protection from midges

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Old Monday 15th July 2013, 21:18   #1
oetzi
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Protection from midges

Lst week I attended the outdoor-show at Friedrichshafen and doing so, I stayed at a camp for three nights. Even though the tent has very good midge nettings and I took all possible precautions, I got badly bitten the whole time. There have been midges even in the large air-conditioned halls of the exhibition and we got bitten there, too. So I thought, why not write a bit about midges and how to avoid them.

Your lines of the defense are twofold: physically and chemically. Lets deal with the former first as its the easiest one to choose.

Tightly woven clothing is your friend when you want adequate protection from midges. If its loosely woven or knitted (like woolen socks) the material has to be quite thick to protect you. (I remember one summer´s holiday in Italy, when sitting on the veranda in the evening. I had to switch from thin cotton socks to my heavy woolen hiking socks to prevent gettong bitten aound the ankles.) If your clothing is very thin, wear two layers since the midges can not bite through these separate layers.

Its basically three different groups of stuff to apply:
-Permethrin
-DEET
-“natural“ stuff based on oil of citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass etc.

The latter two is what one can apply to the skin and clothing worn next to the skin. Of these, DEET is the most effective. The natural stuff works acceptably, but this depends very much on factors like your skin, the intensity of sweating and your general desirability as seen from the midges side. These oil-based products have he advantage of being usable on children, too. There are also no health-related problems as with DEET. But they are way behind in effectiveness and therefore IMO only usable when there is no risk of catching a disease through an insect´s bite.

Generally speaking, it boils down to whether you want to protect yourself from merely annoying bites or from nasty disease as they are oftentimes transmitted by all kinds of insects. Because DEET may be/is more harmful to the human body than the other stuff, everyone must decide for himself what to take.

Now to the bad news for birders and everyone using modern binoculars or digital cameras made from lots of plastics (likewise sunglasses etc): DEET turns plastic – and that means the armour of your precious binocular - into sort of a goo. So as a birder you should never ever use that stuff on your hands or in your face, it will severly damage the armour of your binoculars. Porro-lovers can rejoice as long as they use all-metall ones with a cover of real leather.

As for application on your clothing, DEET is ok with cotton, linen, hemp, silk, wool and polyamide. (It also eats holes in your spandex shorts and may act as a nail-paint remover.)

So its possible to apply DEET on clothing. In fact it makes it possible to wear those very lightweight clothes, which make the summer heat bearable. But I dont know wheather sweat may dissolve the DEET in your clothing and transfer it to the binoculars hanging around your neck. So I wouldnt recommend this, too.

An alternative to DEET is Icaridin (Bayrepel) by Bayer, which is said to have the same good effect, but the verdict is still out. Icaridin does not dissolve plastic! Now thats good news for us and worth giving a try.

Permethrin is a bit different. This is the most powerful stuff currently available and should only be applied to clothing worn on the outside, never when it touches the skin. Permethrin gives excellent protection against all kinds insects and is also about the only useful protection against ticks (but thats another story).

Two ways of using Permethrin are available, self-application and industrially bonded to the fabric.

DIY is easy, you buy some of the stuff and spray it on your clothing. Let it dry, wear it and for a couple of weeks you are protected very well. There are a lot of Permethrin-based products on the market, I currently use that from british company Nikwax.

(Disclaimer: I am very much biased in this aspect! I learned about Nikwax during my decades in the outdoor retail business and the sale and usage of their waterproofing stuff. Nikwax doesnt uses any solvents other than water, they never used aerosols like propane and butane. They even shunned away from Fluorcarbons (PFCs) in a time when no one but some freaks considered them harmful. So when they added insect repellents to their line we stocked them and I used them, too. I simply have faith in this company, their products and the philosophy behind.)

Since I personally dont like to smear anything in my face – I am a heavy sweater, it wouldnt stay put anyway – Permethrin is my first line of defence against midges biting me in face and neck.

As a wearer of hats (mostly Tilley, I am much of a stereotype), I apply Permethrin to the brim of the hat. First a good dose on the upper side, then I turn it around and cover the head-opening and sweatband with a piece of paper. A heavy dose on the underside of the brim follows. Having dried I can handle my hat as usual and even when sweating hard the Permethrin is far away from my skin.

But how may this protect my face, you may ask yourself? Well, the Permethrin in the hat´s brim creates sort of an aura which keeps most of the midges away from face and neck. At least thats how I explain it to myself. Refreshing the proofing often enough is crucial, though.

A much much better use of Permethrin is to be had when it is industrially bonded to the fabric. Names like „Insect Shield“, „NosiLife“ stand for a process where Permethrin is infused into the fabric. It will be washed out after a number of cycles, like seventy or so. Otherwise it doesnt „seep“ out of the fabric due to sweating etc.

You can purchase hats, shirts, trousers and the like with these treatments. One of my next additions will be a Buff, as they are available with Insect Shield, too. IS or not, a Buff is one of my standard pieces of clothing anyway. I can highly recommend them for universal use as a neckerchief, sweatband or whatever. Together with my Permethrin-proofed hat I think I will have as much protection as is possible without wearing a head net.

So what do you do if you have been bitten? Transmitted diseases not withstanding, what really bugs me is the itching after the bite. The itch is caused by the body´s reaction to the bite. The midge injects some fluids into your body to make the blood not coagulate and thats what the human body reats to. Histamine is produced as an allergic reaction and thats what causes the itch.

Now you can apply some special ointment to reduce this Histamine production and all be well. My preferred alternative is a small device pased on Piezo technology. You may know it as „Zap-IT“. Thats a small item which on the pressure of a knob produces a tiny electric charge. The technic behind is a small piece of Tourmaline which is squeezed by the pressure of the button and then produces an electric charge. Upon discovering a bite, 5-10 times as per your sensitivity to the bite of the midge is usually enough. You may have to repeat it after several hours.

These elctric charges „destroy“ the stuff the midge has injected and therefore stops your reaction with the Histamine production. It works the better, the sooner you discover the bite. But I have made good experiences even many hours afterwards, like when wake up and have been bitten while asleep. Clever tool, isnt it? No batteries needed, infinitely storable, always ready to be used and cheap, too. I always haveone on me these days.

Thats my two cent worth of knowledge to the topic of midges and their bites. please note, it only applies to me here in central europe. Others may have made different experiences and maybe we cah share these in this thread.
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Last edited by oetzi : Tuesday 16th July 2013 at 06:10.
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Old Tuesday 16th July 2013, 18:07   #2
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Good info, thank you.
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Old Tuesday 16th July 2013, 20:11   #3
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Please note, I use the term "midges" in a general way to name all of these suckers.

It would be great if other members chimed in and added their own expriences from all over the world.
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Last edited by oetzi : Wednesday 17th July 2013 at 06:08.
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Old Tuesday 16th July 2013, 20:51   #4
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Smidge that Midge - Scottish Midges stay well away, and a Canadian 'Bug Shirt Elite'. Has mesh sides and under arms, deep green colour / black mesh panels and a real neat hood that zips over (mesh face).

http://www.outdoorphotogear.com/stor...e-edition.html

Smidge also works well against ticks, and a good lower leg dosing works wonders. I don't get bite itches, simply because I don't get bitten. Bliss.
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Old Wednesday 17th July 2013, 03:21   #5
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Thus, far, the Ex Officio gear also sold under the Buzz-Off label by LLBean in the US has performed well for me.
It is based on pyrethrum treated fabric, including socks, pants, shirts and hats. The gear is generously designed, with ample ventilation and ample pockets, some zippered plus useful touches such as detachable pant legs.
Thus far it has kept ticks at bay here in the CT, NY,NJ area, stayed midges
at Myvaten in Iceland and held all sorts of interesting six and eight legged creatures at a distance in Peru.
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Old Wednesday 17th July 2013, 05:35   #6
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Thanks for the info.
My problem with everything on the skin is that I am a very heavy sweater. And I detest anythick sticky on my skin. Luckily, the midges I encounter at home are numerous but not as aggressive as, for instance, scottish ones. 15km to the east or west (in those natural reservates at a lake and river I like to go birding) its a very different story. Tons of them and prior to the spraying of BTI that area at the Rhine was notorious for people having to wear their waterproof clothing during summer when venturing outside. In these locations, there I do have to apply repellents.


That said, I have made quite acceptable experiences with Nikwax SkitoStop, which is even available in combination with sun protection. And as skin-care with Aloe Vera. One ointment for everything, which makes it very attractive for me. Couldnt use it at Friedrichshafen as I have run out of it and Nikwax didnt have any samples at th booth.

http://www.nikwax.de/en-gb/products/...-1&fabricid=-1
http://www.nikwax.de/en-gb/products/...-1&fabricid=-1
http://www.nikwax.de/en-gb/products/...-1&fabricid=-1
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Old Saturday 10th August 2013, 01:35   #7
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Glad i just read the info about Deet above, just googled it as well as i have recently bought a bottle of Jungle Formula which contains 50% Deet, had it on my hands when rubbing it into my neck and face etc, wont be using it no more though.


Thanks
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Old Saturday 10th August 2013, 05:42   #8
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I use Autan from Bayer which is 20% Deet.Good protection but not 100% effective against tics.I've not had a problem with melting armour and the like but after the above I will ensure that the palms of my hands are cleared before touching the binos.Thank you for the information....Eddy.
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Old Friday 16th August 2013, 10:21   #9
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Thanks for the Nikwax lead, I'll try a couple of their products.

Has anyone tried the Avon "Skin-so-soft". Many reports (not sure if true) that the US forces used it in Iraq.

It is a little greasy. When I tried it to ward off mozzies in Greece, it seemed to work but was caught in an area (under my hair at the back of my head) that I didn't apply it to.

I tell my wife that a good test would be to only cover, say, one leg in it, then to see how it goes. So far, we've not tried this test.

Dave

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Old Friday 16th August 2013, 22:58   #10
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Has anyone tried the Avon "Skin-so-soft". Many reports (not sure if true) that the US forces used it in Iraq.
I tell my wife that a good test would be to only cover, say, one leg in it, then to see how it goes. So far, we've not tried this test.

Dave
Great idea, Dave.
Has your wife decided yet which of your legs will get the treatment?
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Old Friday 16th August 2013, 23:51   #11
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You will never beat them I was all suited up in a nuclear biological and chemical suite plus respirator in Northumberland and was eaten by the little vermin
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Old Friday 22nd November 2013, 14:32   #12
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Thumbs up

In Menorca: I use the Jungle Juice/or any roll ons as most people tend to bring their own. So we share and share alike to help each other out in my sailing group. It is touch and go whether the little so and so's are around when we appear in May as it is the beginning of the season for them.

I am very allergic to Mozzie bites. The bites cause my skin to ballon up, and itch like hell.
One morning, I received a bite at the side of my eyeball in the middle of the day. I believe I got the bite while sailing as the water was very calm, the sun intense, and the boats did not do too much except bob about in the calm water.
Once ashore my eye balloned, up and everyone wondered what was wrong as it looked like i had a badly swollen eye socket. It was painful to say the least!.

I am told that the Mozzies are at their worst just as it is getting dark, and if there is no wind at all. After any rain, warm dampness, then they are out in force.
So it is out with the long trousers, and long sleeves to be worn in the evening time when out and about on the island. The protective clothes are a must for evening time, and keep those ankles covered so no bare feet in shoes! Boney areas of the body make no difference as Mozzies bite anywhere LOL!

Any walks which involves long grass - once more keep the Mozzie spray on your person as you can hear the ***'s before you see them because of their high pitched whine they let out - quite close to your ears

On my last trip to Spain our room was full of mozzies during the day, and one evening - 5pm -ish - we counted 25 all together in our room. It was a serious business of spraying the room with Mozzie spray, swatting them before we retired for the evening. The hotel provided the spray for us - bless them for their help too

My advice hmm...
Get a good product that suits your skin type, wear long trousers and sleeves in the evening, keep the accommodation room free of mozzies by keeping the doors shut at all times, spray the room with mozzie stuff after the day outing (when you are out for your evening meal!) as they will be lurking under the beds, bed covers and everywhere else as they are sly little things. Keep your clothes hidden in the drawers etc,,
Get some mozzie candles that burn to deter the little ****'sd, . There are a few things on the market that can be benifical too.

You can also get outside Mozzie deterrant as well as indoors... so remember to read the instructions on the item as they differ a lot how you use them.

Just my thoughts, and if I think of any others I will post here

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Old Friday 22nd November 2013, 17:17   #13
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It's a strange thing that some people suffer with bites more than others. I usually don't get bitten. My wife, on the other hand, get's eaten alive - and then suffers for days/weeks with swollen and infected lumps.

She has used the Avon product this summer and it does indeed work very well (for her at least).
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Old Saturday 23rd November 2013, 23:39   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratal View Post
Smidge that Midge - Scottish Midges stay well away, and a Canadian 'Bug Shirt Elite'. Has mesh sides and under arms, deep green colour / black mesh panels and a real neat hood that zips over (mesh face).

http://www.outdoorphotogear.com/stor...e-edition.html

Smidge also works well against ticks, and a good lower leg dosing works wonders. I don't get bite itches, simply because I don't get bitten. Bliss.
hi Ratal

Like the sound of the the 'bug elite shirt'!

Yes, the Scottish Midgie is another small Scottish 'beastie' all together

The problem with the Scottish Midgie (May - August..time) is that is so small it can get into all of the places you would not dream of {blush}

It is a persistant little blighter.

A non sexy net over the head area, and a hat that keep the midgies from attacking the hairline. Nothing worse than feeling your hair is moving on its own with a midgie colony that have taken residence in your hair - horrible!

Midgies are on a different level to Mozzies, but it is sheer numbers that take their toll on your body.

The bite is small, but as there is so many of the little suckers, they can wear you down just as much as mozzies with their continual biting.

Just another force to be reckoned with

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Old Saturday 23rd November 2013, 23:50   #15
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It's a strange thing that some people suffer with bites more than others. I usually don't get bitten. My wife, on the other hand, get's eaten alive - and then suffers for days/weeks with swollen and infected lumps.

She has used the Avon product this summer and it does indeed work very well (for her at least).
Hi Alan

Sorry to hear that your OH suffers Alan not much fun at all,

Must be a female thing that Mozzies are attracted to. i have heard from men (sailing group) in Spain that their OH's suffer in the firing iine for Mozzie fodder.

Wonder what it is they like so much about us..girls..one of life's mysteries i guess.

I must get the AVON product on-line as it sounds really useful, and to have a Mozzie bite free holiday next May in Menorca would be wonderful.

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Old Wednesday 27th November 2013, 18:22   #16
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Reading this thread with interest as I don't think gender is the answer as I get eaten alive by midges and mozzies. Wearing shoes without socks invites midges to get in the lace holes, around my ankles and any other area of bare skin. I was warned of this when taking part in a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni on Brownsea Island, if the midges don't bite you to death, the peacocks will compete and win by sheer volume.

One suggested midge deterrent is to smoke a nice (?) smelly pipe, puts eveyone else off as well, and if the midges don't get you cancer will
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Old Wednesday 27th November 2013, 21:37   #17
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Mosquitos like blood full of colesterol and it may be that women have a higher colesterol level than men hence women are more susceptical to attack and suffer worst effects than men.If you are regularly attacked get you colesterol level checked it may help in your long term health...Eddy
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Old Wednesday 27th November 2013, 22:02   #18
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I am as healthy as you get, Eddy, with no issues about my health and well-being at all.

No Macdonads for me and all the other rubbish foods

After lots of 'healthy' home made dinners, not sitting on a chair all day looking at the internet like a couch potato, and lots of days out birding with camera in hand - the chances of being ill become less and less - it depends on our lifestyle

I think it is a girly thing that mozzies simply like woman over men simple as that.

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Old Saturday 30th November 2013, 21:37   #19
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There's a British product, Incognito from www.lessmosquito.com, a natural protection range that works. I react badly to mozzies, so when I saw this product at the Birdfair I bought some.Being a sceptic, on a trip to Senegal and Gambia, I took Incognito and a Deet based product as back up.
The Incognito worked brilliantly, no bites at all, even though I could hear the little s**'s buzzing around the room.
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Old Thursday 5th December 2013, 20:32   #20
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I too get bitten on a large scale. I'd not heard of the cholesterol link and I'm an entomologist! I did some checking and it is apparently cholersterol compounds on the skin, rather than in the blood but I'll check with our dipterists to see what they think.

Given that I spend much of my holidays in the middle of s'Albufera (Mallorca), mozzies are a real issue for me. Of late I've been using Mosquito Milk, which is 20% DEET so one has to be careful, and I've been very impressed with the lack of bites. I used to get it from my local pharmacy but now I order it on-line. Being a roll-on it just goes where you put it. Next year I may give Incognito a go - but with mosimilk as a back-up.

Martin
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Old Friday 28th March 2014, 19:31   #21
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Just bought some Smidge and I shall give it a run out at Easter.

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Old Sunday 7th September 2014, 00:43   #22
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After the bite ...

I can't really help with prevention, but I know two very effective natural remedies - once you've been bitten.

1. Lemon juice. Put a few drops on the bite, rub it a bit on the spot, let it dry.

2. Plantago major (or broadleaf plantain, greater plantain). Crush a fresh leaf and rub it on the bite (don't expect to squeeze out any juice of that plant, it appears rather dry).

With either remedy, the itch goes away completely after about 15 minutes. And the bites don't get infected. IT'S IMPORTANT HOWEVER THAT THESE REMEDIES BE APPLIED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER THE BITE. Even half an hour later they will help much less or not at all.

I use lemon juice at home, and the Plantago when I'm outside. In Central Europe the Plantago seems to grow almost anywhere, especially at waysides and roadsides. Some of my birding areas are very wet and at dusk I get bitten rather often, but the Plantago really helps. I never have infected bites or itches that last for hours or days.

Though a native plant of Europe, the Plantago now grows in many places on the American continent, too.

Some people are very skeptical towards natural remedies, so I just say: You don't have to believe it. Try it out!

Ivan

PS: If stung by a bee or wasp, make a paste of sugar and vinegar, gently rub it on the bite and let it dry there. If necessary, apply again a quarter of an hour later. The pain will go away soon.

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Old Sunday 7th September 2014, 00:48   #23
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Quote:
Lemon juice. Put a few drops on the bite, rub it a bit on the spot, let it dry.
Good to know as I am overrun with mosquitoes and mosquito bites
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Old Sunday 7th September 2014, 00:57   #24
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Midges and mosquitoes

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Originally Posted by KCFoggin View Post
Good to know as I am overrun with mosquitoes and mosquito bites
When you've tried it, please let us know if it works for you too. I suppose European midges and American mosquitoes don't use quite the same chemicals to ill-treat us ...

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Old Wednesday 17th August 2016, 10:33   #25
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As an update, I recently used Smidge on Skye - really does seem to be the solution (no pun intended) to this tiny menace.
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