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So far i have only hiked in Scotland in april or may so i have no real experience with midges.
I was under the impression that they dont bite through knitted fabrics ? But i d rather be sure :)
I was thinking about using a buttoned long sleeved shirt, but it has small mesh panels under the arms, bad idea or some permethrin would be sufficient?
You'll get plenty of good advice here, Frederic, so on clothing I'll just say, yes to a long sleeved shirt - and if you don't already have one, do get a midge net for your head!
You are highly unlikely to be bitten underarm so I wouldn't use the permethrin. Midgie bites are tiny and for most people just an itchy and annoying nuisance. Unless they are very bad indeed they are more of a problem when you are stopped than whilst walking. They don't like even light wind, heavy rain or strong sunlight. Try and camp somewhere with a good breeze and take some smidge and a headnet!
Alas, biting is only a part of the midge problem and not much more than an itching irritation unless you have an allergy. To those Challengers who have never experienced full blown midge attacks, I warn you that you cannot comprehend just how bad it can be. Those we experience in May are a mere nuisance compared to the shock troops which arrive in high summer. On a still evening they will descend upon you in their thousands and cover any exposed area of skin (quite literally skin crawling), invading every orifice and driving you into a frenzy. A midge net is not an optional extra, it's an essential bit of PPE and woe betide you if you arrive without one.
As others have said, they don't like wind or strong sunshine, though the latter is less of a deterrent than air flow. I've known midges to be present on ridges when the air is still and the sun high in the sky. They are less of a problem when you're moving and most of the time you'll outrun them but as soon as you slow down or stop they'll congregate en masse and force you to move on. When you halt in the evening, try your best to pitch in a breezy spot, which will keep them at bay but all too often you'll find that when the wind dies (and it often does, sadly), you'll have lots of undesirable company. Unless that breeze is in place, you can forget about sitting outside to enjoy the evening sun. And it can be no fun at all when you're trapped within a hot tent, unable to venture outside.
Midge or mosquito coils won't be everyone's cup of tea, exuding smoke which will kill the beasts and keep them out of a tent. I'll admit to using them within a sealed tent in order to clear the porch, trying hard not to think about what nasty substances I'm breathing in. Even that prospect seems preferable to sharing my shelter with such unpleasant bedmates. Tarps will be decidely iffy in June and I'd say that a two skin shelter is pretty well a must have. If the pitch is midge infested in the morning, I'm in the habit of lighting a coil and chucking it into the porch, giving it ten minutes to do its work before I unzip the inner. If the idea of such things appals you, then give some serious thought as to how you're going to clear them from within your shelter - a dampened cloth might work to a degree but think hundreds of insects rather than just a few.
I'm describing the worst case scenario, of course. If there's a constant breeze during the fortnight then we may get off lightly. And camping high will resolve a lot of problems. Let's hope for a windy June, but do come prepared.
about 12 years ago i hiked with Elise in Greenland, and it would have been better to say the least if i didnt underestimated the mosquitoes so i d rather prepare myself better this time.
I intend bringing a noseum headnet and i am not yet decided between my usual headcap or bringing a hat.
But i hesitate more about the shirt, from what i read midges dont bite through clothes, but is it still true with very thin merinos like this one :
(with Eyelet mesh back for full ventilation they says ...)
Or is a synthetic shirt mandatory ?
Midges won't bite you through a layer of clothing, no matter how thin. A mesh ventilation layer might be a different story but it will depend on the size of the holes in the mesh itself; if they're smaller than the insects you'll be safe but if they're large enough to admit the beasts then you'll be at risk of bites.
You're at most risk when conditions are still and you're not moving. Just have an impervious layer and a net ready to hand for when you stop.
Might I suggest this as a must for an after dinner stroll.:joy:
All very well, Ian ... until you need a wee. :flushed:
I'm no lover of DEET based repellants, but they ARE effective.
I've used Smidge and Skin-So-Soft but they don't work too well for me.
Citronella incense sticks deter the little blighters, they'll help keep them out of your tent but only last for around an hour.
Citronella candles, certainly the ones I've used, don't emit enough of the deterring pong to be that effective.
I've come across citronella oil, maybe that could be used in a small oil lamp, the type used in gardens....I'll be investigating.
Whilst on the move I'll be carrying (and wearing!) a midge net, and I'll probably end up using DEET on my exposed bits - hands & arms.
Be aware that there are so called midge nets on sale on ebay which are totally useless. I bought one a while back which was allegedly made by a company based in Glasgow so you would think that they knew what a highland midge looked like but the mesh was so coarse the little monsters could fly straight through without even slowing down. As you would expect, the net sold by Smidge is up to the job.
You also have to be careful with your tent, my Vango tent (another Scottish company who you would have thought understood midges) has the incredibly useful, tension band system which vastly increases its stability in high winds but the system relies on nylon tapes passing through the tent inner to the fly sheet. These passthrough areas are sealed with velcro but the system can leave slight gaps if you are not careful. I've smeared a thin film of surface insecticide (Raid) around the area just to keep them away from any slight gaps that open up as the poles flex. At least the insect mesh panels on the solid inners used by Vango are effective, maybe not all tents have such a fine weave. I can imagine someone having a very difficult time using a backpacking tent with a, 100% insect mesh, summer inner tent and finding that the few grams saved on weight mean that the midges can get in.
Time spent trying to find a pitch with a bit of a breeze is time very well spent. In summer I would prioritise a location for midge risk, even if it means having to fetch water from somewhere further away for example.
My camping trips tend to be over shorter distances and with a two man, 3/4 season tent, I am willing to compromise the extra weight for the added convenience and security when actually pitched, not something the average TGO challenger will be likely to want to do but also in summer I carry a tin of smidge spray and maybe controversially a small can of supermarket fly spray. I find that, if they are swarming, it is impossible to keep midges out especially when pitching because having the tent door open to get kit in just gives them the shady calm place that they love, similarly a quick trip out of the tent in the middle of the night, don't forget that it doesn't really get dark in Northern Scotland in June, is asking for invasion. A short blast of spray into the tent then shutting the door while waiting outside will give you chance to clear the tent. Once the spray has cleared you can quickly open the door, dive in and zip it shut very quickly. Probably not the healthiest thing to do but anyone who has ever experienced a midge swarm will understand, the average victim will be willing to do anything to get rid of them including napalm.
I've tried midge coils and citronella candles and found that Cairngorm beasties just laugh at them.
I totally agree with your view on midgies. Been there, done that, got chewed.
I have not been able to find a small container of fly spray, the supermarkets seem to stock 300ml size. Is yours smaller? the container that is, before the smart alec's make comments.
Aye, right enough Sandy, the supermarkets seem to assume that everyone wants a mega size can. I have been using a small can of Asda spray which was knocking around the house for years, it is almost empty so I guess I'll have to replace it with a half empty 300ml can from the house. As I said, I tend to walk into the hills, set up a base camp and then spend the next few days wondering around returning to the tent each night, so my priorities are different.
Take a look at about 3:26 on this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6ng1kOFucE&ab_channel=WalkWithWallace%F0%9F%91%A3
This is in Glen Avon
This is not particularly or unusually bad for the Cairngorms
The midges in the West of Scotland are reputably even more numerous and voracious than in the East.
Make sure your tent is midge-proof!!
I have a fair bit of experience of Scottish midges. They can’t fly faster than 3mph, so if the wind is stronger than that or you never stop walking, you will be fine! Their larvae live on the rich peaty soil of the Highlands, so the menace is reduced in towns and cities, and gradually drops to zero as you go east.
The only repellents that work for me are those that contain DEET, which should be treated with care. I always bring a long-sleeved top and a head net. I also have a midge jacket and I have been known to resort to a quick burst of fly killer into the tent when car camping. Midges are actively drawn to the carbon dioxide in your breath, so their concentration will rise very rapidly if, for example, you sit in your tent with the door open. I usually bring some cheap incense sticks and burn them at the door of my tent. If nothing else, I can pretend to be a hippie child – oh yea!
There has been some excellent advice here already: look for breezy spots, avoid damp forests, make sure any mesh in your tent or equipment is small enough to exclude midges. I have only been seriously troubled by midges in the morning and evening and if it is breezy they may not be a major problem, so please don’t let them put you off.
Thanks for your advice Emma. Is there any particular midge net & midge jacket you'd recommend? I've not used either and would welcome your suggestions.
I like the smaller midge nets rather than the voluminous ones you wear over a hat, so I have a Highlander Micro midge head net (widely avaliable). I bought a Beatons Midge Jacket from the manufacturer last year.
Thanks Emma, that's really helpful!