Help. We are trying to enjoy a barbeque but midges are eating us. What can we do? T.T by e-mail
There are two main ways to control the pesky midges; the first is to repel them.
Most of the traditional methods of midge control consist of repulsion. Something is used to either drive midges from an area or simply to persuade them not to bite your skin. One of the oldest ways of driving away midges is with smoke. A smokey fire was used in earliest times and is still used. I remember being in Glenveigh National Park where the workers walked around with a tin of smouldering peat. Later the smoking of a pipe was recommended, although this would probably shorten your life instead!. It seems that the smoke interferes with the midges’ sensory apparatus. They try to avoid the smoke and, even if they come near humans, they don’t recognise us. This is possibly connected with their use of carbon dioxide emissions to locate a host.
Many different midge repellent creams have been used over the years, everything from ancient herbal remedies to modern chemicals. Citronella, a type of lemongrass, has been especially popular over the years, we used some last week when we were camping and it was very effective. Garlic also has a reputation for driving away various pests including midges - though obviously it can drive away people too!
Another approach to repelling midges is to use ultrasonics. These devices drive away various pests including, it is claimed, midges. You can buy ultrasonic units designed to cover an entire area or smaller ones that can be worn on the wrist, although I haven’t seen any sold locally.
The other method is to attract the midges
The “attract” strategy of midge control is relatively new. High tech devices such as the Midge Magnet and MidgeEater emit carbon dioxide - often with other added bait - to mimic human breath. This attracts the female midges in the area that are then sucked in and killed. In an area that suffers from midges, one of these devices can destroy many bagfuls of the pesky biters. Calor gas manufactures the devices and initially there was only one unit on offer. This was very expensive and for areas such as Glenveagh National park. Smaller versions are now on the market called Midg-it, which runs on a 5kg gas bottle. Once activated it will kill all of the female midges in your area leaving you free to enjoy the barbeque in peace. For now though get some repellent with citronella in it.