As you move further north, to the more tropical regions of Australia, especially coastal regions, you are sure to encounter the miniature Midge . . .
For a tiny insect, barely the size of a pin head, Midges can pack a punch of irritation and pain to humans. They are so minuscule that they are hard to see – it is often not until a few hours later, that their bite will be noticed. Midges are commonly referred to as ‘Sand Flies’ – possibly due to the fact that they are from the fly family, and, that they are usually found in tidal zones – on sandy shores, within mangrove mud and decaying vegetation.
→ coastal lagoons, estuaries, mangrove swamps, sandy shores and tidal flats
Some Quick Midge Facts
→ thankfully only a few cause a serious nuisance to humans
→ and they do so to source the protein to develop their eggs
→ Midges tend to ‘hack’ the skin open and ‘spit’ their histamine / anti-coagulant containing saliva into the wound, then feast upon the liquefied blood. It is believed that this more ‘violent’ wound coupled with the histamine-like substance contained in their saliva causes the intense itching in sensitive people
Why are the Reactions to their Bite so Severe ??
Their bite itself is mostly painless → coupled with their tiny size, they often go unnoticed – therefore most do not realise they are being bitten and hence to do not take preventative action → it can take some hours before the bites become irritating
→ some will present with just a small red spot
→ whilst others will welt up with blisters & overwhelming itchiness → which leads to scratching and often secondary infections
→ the severe itchiness can last for many days
→ some will build up an immunity to their bite over time
→ others have the opposite reaction and their sensitivity increases
When are Biting Midges most Active ??
→ under calm conditions
→ after high & Spring Tides
→ during new & full Moon phases
→ in Temperatures between 27°C & 32°C
→ with increased humidity – though not whilst raining
→ at Dawn & Dusk – however they are known to bite throughout the night
→ on overcast days – they are also known to bite throughout the day
→ i.e. dawn, dusk, high humidity – at high & Spring tides – new & full Moon
→ many swear by the success of taking Vitamin B1
→ essentially speaking, Midge bites cause spikes in histamine levels → some people are able to metabolise these histamine ‘spikes’ better than others, hence the variance in reactions
→ it is believed that Vitamin B1 improves our ability to break down histamine, gradually increasing our immunity
→ as our immunity improves, the dose of Vitamin B1 can be reduced
→ for most, the development of immunity generally advances with a regular exposure to low numbers of midge bites – not the occasional heavy exposure
→ note that those who experience a more acute reactions to Midge bites may require anti-histamine drugs, and remember, to always consult your doctor before testing any ‘remedy’ . . .
→ those containing either Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin are found to be most effective
→ as a general rule: the greater the % of DEET or Picaridin → the longer the product remains effective
If commercial insect repellents are not suitable, a home-made repellent can be easily made comprising of equal parts: Baby Oil, Dettol and an Aromatic Essential Oil (such as Citronella, Lavender or Lemon Scented Gum (Eucalyptus citriodora))
→ such as ice packs, or, the application of cold (preferably salted) water
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