The biting midge (also often called sandflies in Australia) are, if you have ever been bitten by a midge, the very worse feature of coastal and marine ecology. Great White sharks, Stonefish, tidal rips and stinging jellyfish have nothing on the minuscule midge.
Biting midges are responsible for acute discomfort, irritation and severe local reactions. Itching may commence immediately after the bite, but often not for some hours later, and most individuals are unaware of being bitten at the time....In some sensitive people, midges can produce persistent reactions that blister and weep serum from the site of each bite and these reactions may last for several days to weeks. (ref)
Best advice: don't get bitten.
But how do you manage that?
Our Beachmere acquaintances swear by a mixture of baby oil and Dettol as a good midge repellent if you are out and about during the schedule times of the Midge descent -- dawn and dusk.Since midges can get through fly screen I reckon there are a few recommendations I can embrace unconditionally:
- Increase air movement in the house by using electric fans can effectively create an area unsuitable for Biting Midges as their activity reduces in wind speeds over six (6) to eight (8) kilometres per hour.
- Keep vegetation surrounding the house to a minimum. This reduces insect harbouring areas and increases air flow surrounding the house. Also keep lawns well mown as any activity that reduces sheltering sites and lowers humidity surrounding the house will help to deter midges. Landscaping with tallish vegetation with an upper tree canopy is preferable to low, dense vegetation in midge prone areas as it allows a much better airflow near ground level.
- Biting midges have a histamine like substance in their saliva which can cause intense itching in sensitive individuals. To prevent acute allergic reaction and allow the body to develop its own immunity to midge bites vitamin B1 (thiamine) can be tried. This vitamin has an anti-histamine type action. Biting midge expert, Dr. Eric Reye, suggests an adult dose of 200mg twice a day with meals, preferably starting 2 weeks before exposure to midge. As immunity is developed this dose can be reduced. The development of personal immunity generally comes with a regular exposure to low numbers of midge bites, not occasional heavy exposure. Persons who have a more acute reaction to midge bites may require anti-histamine drugs at times. You should consult your family doctor before trialling these drug therapies.
Is there something I'm missing?
My working bookmarks on Midges are here on delicious...