Insect repellant for managing the midgies

The Good Life Letter

Friday 8th July 2011

  • Discover the scourge of summer
  • Essential insect repellant to stop you swatting and scratching
  • Why does a bald head make for the perfect picnic? 

As the holiday season approaches we should prepare ourselves for an onslaught. Bugs, beasties and creepy crawlies are about to feast on you. Literally. Let's hit 'em with the insect repellant before they bite us senseless!

Our world is full of buzzy things that bite, sting or just plain annoy us.

Sitting outside the other day I was enjoying a cold glass of cider, allowing the sun to warm my old bones and getting a daily dose of Vitamin D.

I must have been the only man outside in Bristol, at least that was how it seemed.

Wasps, flies and flying ants were making a direct assault on me from all sides. One of the little sods even managed to get in my drink...and that is just not playing the game.

Right across the globe the insects are getting their act together.

Whether your summer plans involve a week in Portugal, a month in Australia or a weekend in Margate you can be sure a six legged menace awaits you.

But rather than resort to industrial strength chemicals to control them, what can you do?

Natural controls for insect attack

The first thing is to stop them in their tracks.

I'm not talking about fly papers though! I used to dread visiting my Nan's when I was little because of the brown strips she used to hang in her kitchen.

Each one was littered with the dead and dying, graveyards of filthy creatures. How can it have been hygienic to consider these as a practical way of dealing with flying pests?

And they are still on sale...the stuff of boyhood nightmares.

There are easier and more natural ways to provide a deterrent, for instance;

  • Crushed mint and bay leaves or cloves and eucalyptus will stop flies in their tracks.
  • Slices of bitter cucumber scare away ants, just trace them back to where they are getting in, or put at the entrance of their nest.
  • Sage or Rosemary smoke wards off mosquitoes, I like to chuck a handful of woody stalks onto the barbeque coals after I finish cooking, it smells great and keeps away the bugs.
  • Catnip will scare away even amour plated cockroaches, so it's worth cultivating just for that.

These are all well and good if you are at home, but what if you happen to be tramping about in the great outdoors?

How do you keep the creatures at bay if you are enjoying a picnic?

Well the answer to that lay in a recent trip to Glencoe to visit a few friends.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Scotland's wildlife.  In particular they have a particularly aggressive form of flying bandits known as midges.

Barely visible, these pests are a nightmare.

I can only imagine that their teeth account for 90% of their bodies because that's how vicious they are.

The secret to battling the Scottish midge menace

The short journey from car to house involved running a gauntlet of terror; swarms of these miniscule monsters buzzed and bit at every opportunity.

With flailing arms and a brisk stride Lara and I must have looked like we were having some sort of a fit.

"You'll have met the locals then?" chortled my friend Emma, "They seem really pleased to have fresh Sassenach meat!"

If that is the case then devolution can't come quick enough in my book, just as long as all of the midges stay north of the border.

Armed with our trusty tube of Pommade Divine Lara and I set about treating the bites.

"You'll need something a little stronger for when we go out for a picnic" said our genial hostess smiling.

"A Picnic?! I can guess what will be on the menu...ME!" I snorted.

"As it happens you will be the star of the show, in fact you are perfect for what I have in mind" she said.

I envisaged some sort of Wicker Man moment with me suspended from a tree for the sport of the insects whilst everyone else ate their jam butties.

"It's your hairstyle that will make the difference" Emma chortled.

As you know from my many grumbles on the subject I'm no longer in possession of a full head of hair. My balding pate is often the butt of jokes from my children, drinking buddies and even my dear wife.

So, this last comment baffled me.

Emma returned from the kitchen brandishing a tube of Bug Buster.  Her recipe for the perfect bug free picnic was simple:

She was going to rub some Bug Buster onto my head at regular intervals and allow it to evaporate, carrying with it the scent of Citronella, Aloe Vera, Chickweed, Lavender, Peppermint & Eucalyptus.  These potent natural repellents would clear the area around us and allow us to eat in peace.

And do you know what? It actually worked.  No flies, no midges, no wasps, no mosquitoes - nothing! 

So as I pack to go on my annual trip abroad I am making sure I put a tube of Bug Buster in.  If it defeats the war like Scottish midge then the Portuguese mosquitoes won't stand a chance.

I have written a few letters in advance to cover my time off, plus I will be answering a few e-mails whilst I'm away (and Lara isn't looking) so hopefully you won't miss me too much.

Yours as always,




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