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Midge Attack! Or, How to Repel Midges During the Summer Months

I live in Devon, England. I am an activities coordinator in a care home. I play the accordion and teach violin and piano.

Close-up of a biting midge

Close-up of a biting midge

During the summer months, midges are a darned nuisance! Especially in certain geographical areas.

I live on Dartmoor in the SW of England. Here in Dartmoor, we were given an orange alert for midges. This is bad enough, but in certain parts of Scotland, they have received a red alert!

Midges in Scotland really are enormous and completely unscrupulous, hateful things! (although I do understand they are only trying to live, feed and reproduce like the rest of us - I just don't want them to feed on me).

When I was camping in Scotland 10 years ago, I found the perfect answer in the tent - unscented hairspray. It knocks 'em dead!

Lately, my husband and I have been spending a lot of time outdoors, specifically in river valleys which are notorious haunts of the dastardly midge.

I have been desperately trying to ward them off as they love me more than my husband, so it appears!

Here are a few of my hard-earned tips for keeping pesky midges at bay (I think I deserve a medal for bravery, quite frankly)!

Tips for Repelling Midges

  • Eat loads of garlic. The smell oozes out of your pores and they hate it!
  • Cover up, if you can. I get very overheated, so covering up is not an option for me. But if you can, do. Out walking the other day, I saw hiker in a boilersuit! He was wearing hiking boots and a rucksack, so I do not think he was a plumber. It was obvious he was attempting to ward off the sun and the insects. I'd die of heat exhaustion in a boiler suit, not to mention the risible stares I'd get (not that I care)...
  • It is possible to buy midge nets, which you wear over a sun hat. They drape onto your shoulders and prevent midges biting your face and head.
  • Talking of faces and heads - I've found rubbing some tea tree oil through your hair and round the scalp line down to your jaw really helps. They just do not like the smell of it. I don't know why, but they don't.
  • Another essential oil they hate is bog myrtle. Traditionally, Highlanders in Scotland tied bunches of bog myrtle around their ankles to fend off midges (which are particularly vicious as I mentioned above). These days, we have essential oils, so it is not necessary to use the actual plant. Unfortunately, bog myrtle can be toxic if applied to your skin, so instead, put a few drops on your clothing (it won't stain).
  • There's a particular Eau de Cologne called 4711. Get it. Midges hate it. Believe me, they utterly loathe it! In fact, 4711 comes in not only EDT form, but also soap, shower gel, talcum powder, cooling stick and body spray, so layer these products before you go out to a midge infested place. Spray the body spray into your hair. Spray it onto the picnic mat, or sprinkle talc. I tried this the other day and the midges were completely disgusted with me! Unfortunately, I didn't have the body spray and they bit my face and head. Apply one of the products at regular intervals during your excursion.
  • Another product they hate is Avon Skin So Soft, dry oil spray Woodland Fresh (the green one).
  • If you are sitting around reading or having a picnic, or generally trying to chill it is totally impossible if you have to spend the whole time fending off the midges. No fun at all. Been there done that, got the tee shirt, as they say! Under these circumstances I advise burning joss sticks. The smellier and smokier the better. They absolutely hate smoke.
  • Sit in the sun. Midges hate the sun and they hate the wind, so...
  • Fan yourself. The midges will think its wind and will keep away.

Last but Not Least

If all else fails, stay indoors!

Have a good summer, folks!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


just helen (author) from Dartmoor UK on August 21, 2017:

Hi Maggie, thanks for your comment!

I don't know anything about that I'm afraid, but if you find out something please post it on here.

margie foulston on August 19, 2017:

could a synthetic protein source be made invented to use against these 'DAM MIGIES'!.

just helen (author) from Dartmoor UK on June 23, 2015:

Here is a link on wikipedia which gives more detail -

just helen (author) from Dartmoor UK on June 23, 2015:

Hi again Bob! Thanks for your comment!

The midge is a completely different insect to the mosquito. It is much much smaller, and often comes in swarms in the evening in humid wet locations.

Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on June 19, 2015:

I am from New York State in the U.S. I had never heard of a midge. I guess I've not lived... so I looked up midge and the dictionary "reluctantly" called a midge a mosquito. I am familiar with mosquitoes. If these things are a variety of mosquito... well, let's say I will take notes. Don't like the garlic out of the pores thing... I would try some of the others. My wife uses tea tree oil on her hair sometimes. Her natural black hair breaks off if she doesn't use things to soften it. Anyway, It was an interesting read and I voted up and interesting and useful. Bob.