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Midges

I am traveling to Scotland for two weeks and will be spending at least a week or more in the highlands and islands areas. What is the best all natural spray to use to help repel midges. I'm trying to avoid anything with chemicals in it. Also, are there any scents that attract them I should avoid. Thanks.

Posted by
9110 posts

It can still vary depending on wind, temp, history of standing water.

Wife uses Avon skin-so-soft. I use Off Deep Woods. Neither works all the time. Moving a hundred yards usually works.

Midge forecasts miss in both directions as often as not.

Posted by
3262 posts

Stores carry natural, plant-based insect repellants but the stuff with DEET is effective, although chemical. Deep Woods Off comes in a moist towelette version, which is packable and we find is less messy than sprays or lotions. I've seen wipe-on sticks, too. Another option to consider is long sleeves and wearing a hat and headnet.

Posted by
1239 posts

My hill walking friends swear by the Avon Skin So Soft remedy mentioned by Ed. This is also the one used by reputation by the Royal Marines. But again as Ed says nothing is going to stop them all.

The advice from Scottish Natural Heritage is here SNH Midge Advice

They seem to be drawn to darker coloured clothes and are more active in the evening being sluggish in the cool of the day, but prefer shaded areas.

The only real advice to avoid them if you come across is get out their way quick.

Posted by
9110 posts

Battle dress and cosmetics. No wonder real Marines say the Royals are a bunch of sissies.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for all the great advice. I try to avoid things with chemicals. I've been diagnosed with cancer twice, so I try to stay away from anything with strong chemicals. I thought about taking a natural repellent and the SSS, but I wasn't sure if I was overdoing it.

I'm also trying to avoid having an arm bit that has a high risk of developing Lymphedema since I just finished radiation a few months ago. If you have along sleeves on, can they still bite through the material?

Posted by
1239 posts

Clothes will not stop them, but will slow them down, they will go for the path of least resistance. Long sleeves and long trousers/walking socks in dark colours are probably your friend in the areas they like. Also travelling with someone in short sleeves and bright colours may also be effective to throw them off the scent as it were.

Posted by
674 posts

No,,can't bit through clothes.
They don't really go for hands either..its eyes and brow they aim at .
And to add to the above post, they have a preference for females over males.

Posted by
16769 posts

No good advice to offer you on non-toxic alternatives. Most of us seem to take the heavy-duty bug juice.

Posted by
3262 posts

So are midges where the term "bugger" came from?

Posted by
5013 posts

If Skin-so-soft actually worked as well as people think, Avon would market and label it as insect repellent. Its been tested and no more effective than any other oily substance you can cover your skin with. And it's made from chemicals.

Posted by
3262 posts

Avon might also employ an advertising campaign with "Combat Formula" or "Royal Marines Formula." Imagine a dark-colored beret accessory, impregnated with Skin-so-Soft.

Posted by
5461 posts

When I go walking in the Highlands in August and September, I am wearing convertible pants due to my eternal optimism that once again I will get a Scottish Sunburn. I have layers and one is long sleeved shirt that is different than my rain jacket. I have a midgie hat. I don't worry about chemicals, but I think the barriers will help.

Also, I have to say that in ten plus trips to Scotland and most of them walking in the Highlands, I've only had to put the midgie gear on a few times. I was going to say 4-5, but to be honest I'm not sure. Just like with mosquitos you need a still day and a muggy day. So, you may be lucky and miss them.

Pam

Posted by
2762 posts

s.eilers, sounds like you have been treated for breast cancer and I wish you the best going forward. My sister went through this, including the worry about lymphedema. Do be careful with your arm. You might want to consider wearing a lightweight, light-colored, tightly-woven long-sleeved hiking shirt. Something like this from Sierra Trading Post (get the white one):

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/exofficio-super-dryflylite-shirt-upf-30-plus--long-sleeve-for-women~p~4036j/?filterString=womens-clothing~d~6%2Fexofficio~b~5881%2Fwomens-shirts~d~265%2F&colorFamily=22

An added bonus is most of these shirts also protect you from the sun, so you don't need sunscreen (more chemicals).

They (companies like Ex Officio, Columbia, and others) also make shirts that are impregnated with bug repellant. You may not want that because of the chemical treatment, but you could wear it over another lightweight shirt so it wouldn't touch your skin. That is what I did when we went on a hiking trip in mosquito country (Yosemite in June) last year. And I am taking the same shirt when we go to Scotland and the highlands in a few weeks.

You'll also want a brimmed hat to help keep them away from your face.

Posted by
5013 posts

@nancy Yes I was aware, but the SSS Bug Guard is a different product than the SSS that is the basic product that got the reputation for repelling mosquitoes. The Bug Guard formula contains a chemical called picaridin, that has bug repellent properties. So I don't blame Avon for marketing a different product, using the SSS name, but everyone I know who swears by SSS is actually using the basic product. If that worked, they wouldn't have created a new product. SSS has been tested many times by many entities. Ref. articles in New England Journal of Medicine, Consumer Reports and other places. I've experimented myself with SSS, in tropical areas, and can confirm. Ref. Snopes.com for the British military old wives' tale.

Basically, anything oily and smelly that you smear on yourself and masks the human CO2 signature might work briefly to deter some types of bugs, but nothing works as long or as well as DEET-based formulas. Your choice at which is worse - chemical exposure or bugs.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks everyone for all the great information. I have had breast cancer twice. I just finished radiation in December and am very concerned about getting lymphedema.

I did by a Columbia water tight packable rain jacket to take. I was hoping if I velcro'd around the wrist really tight they wouldn't get to my arm. However I was concerned about them biting through it and getting to hot as well.

I started making my own soaps and shampoos since I've been diagnosed. I found recipes with essential oils for bug spray repellents. However, most of them are geared towards mosquitoes and not midges. I wasn't sure if those would work as an extra precaution.

Also, thanks for the link to the shirt. I will definitely get one before I leave.

Posted by
597 posts

A headnet might be an option; to wear over a wide-brimmed hat so you don't have to apply repellent, or in case repellent does not work. They weigh and pack to about nothing; the drawback of course is you're looking through a fine screen.

Posted by
45 posts

Maybe you can spray your clothes with the DEET and use the non-chemical repellents on your skin.

Posted by
7 posts

Even if you spray it on your clothes, if your wearing them it can still be absorbed into your skin because the skin in 76% porous,

Posted by
9110 posts

Holy cow!

You could have gotten away from the little buggers faster than you could have read all the helpful advice.

You can out-walk them. They hate the sun and breeze. You might get a little red dot if you get nicked, but you won't go into a coma or come down with Rocky Mountain spotted Lyme disease.

Posted by
7 posts

The only area I am overly concerned about being bit is my arm. I am at a high risk of getting lymphedema and it can start by open sores or cuts on the hand or arm at risk. Once you get it, there is no cure, so I want to ensure I'm doing everything I can not to get it.

Posted by
3262 posts

Just reviewed my Lonely Planet Scotland guide this weekend, which definitely stated it was light-colored clothing that seemed to be more effective in not attracting midges. As for effectiveness of various bug repellants against various bugs, the chemical stuff seems to work on mosquitoes, black flies, gnats, etc. -- don't know specifically if midges are different from their sister insects (it's just the female midges that are out for blood), or if a certain soap would be better with some bugs than others. Does your dermatologist or other doctor have any recommendations? Here's hoping for a bit of a breeze when you're there!

Posted by
12 posts

Hands down the best stuff is a product made by 3M called Ultrathon. Google it....read the reviews. NOTHING comes close to being as effective as this stuff. A little dab will do you....and it lasts up to 12 hrs.

Posted by
5461 posts

Check out this wonderful article on midges. Then, wear light colored clothes with long sleeves, stay in the pub near dusk and don't get up to early. Avoid low-lying, shady, damp places and you'll be okay.

Pam

Posted by
2762 posts

I am going to repeat my recommendation for a tightly-woven long-sleeved nylon shirt in white or a very light blue or yellow. Button the cuffs. It won't be too hot to wear, and if it is cold layer over a long sleeve tee.

As for sealing the cuffs tightly with something, don't you have to be careful about tight things around your arm? I know you shouldn't have a blood pressure cuff on an arm at risk for lymph edema. Is your wrist OK?

Posted by
7 posts

Pamela - Thanks for the article, it has a lot of great information. I've read some stuff on it, but not with that much more detail. The person writing it was very entertaining as well.

Sasha - I can't have anything tight around any part of my arm or hand. My rain jacket I bought to bring does have velcro cuffs around it so I can tighten it without it being to tight. I was concerned about being to hot if I wore it, and of course, its black and not a brighter color.

Posted by
241 posts

Go for max strength, frequent applications of best you can get - personally something with DEET - put it on tops socks (may stain). Do not leave gaps in clothing. Wear a hat.
Dusk/dawn worst. Do not go near still water unless there is wind/rain (you learn to love both as there are no midges). Sheltered areas worst - under trees/bridges ...
They say away from any fire (eg camp-fire).
Get calomine lotion to sooth bites afterwards.
Basically, avoid midgey areas.
Also, do not sit down on what may look like lovely, pretty heather - think TICK HEAVEN. This is another reason for covering up.
Just look at what the locals are doing (I'm one of them ... ).
You'll easily get all kinds of insect repellent in chemist in UK - go for a Boot's Chemist - you'll need a reasonable sized town. You'll get calomine lotion there too.
From personal experience, don't think colour of clothing will make a significant difference.