Biting midges or no-see-ums are exasperating to deal with. Getting bitten by these flying pests can result in annoying itch or mild pain to dangerous allergic reactions, and even infections.
While there are numerous options available for alleviating these effects, why not save yourself the trouble and learn how to avoid midges in the first place?
HOW TO AVOID MIDGES
To avoid biting and non-biting midges, consider these factors.
1. Avoid Midge Habitats
The easiest way to avoid midges would probably be to steer clear of their habitats. With over 5,600 Ceratopogonidae species all over the world, nearly no region is indeed completely free of these pests. Still, there are ways to recognize potential hotspots in your area.
Whether in tropical or temperate climates, biting midges typically breed in spots that are either aquatic or semi-aquatic. These insects require moisture to support egg-laying, as well as sufficient nutrient-rich organic matter for their larvae to feed on into adulthood.
As these bodies of water provide both of these things, the shallows or beds of lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers normally give rise to populations of no-see-ums. Keeping your distance from areas like these is one way to avoid midges.
Natural detritus also presents the same conducive conditions for propagation, making damp leaf piles, rotting wood, and remnants of dead trees good indicators of spots to be avoided.
2. Decrease the Midge Population
Of course, you would probably rarely find yourself wondering how to avoid midges if there weren’t that many of them around. Preventing midges from propagating is definitely key to being able to avoid them entirely.
For the reasons mentioned above, clearing detritus may be helpful in making a dent in the midge population near you. Make sure to dispose of any leaves or plant matter after raking your lawn or tidying up the garden. Also, remember to clean out post-rain puddles and other spots that collect rainwater, such as plant boxes and mud craters or tracks, as these are also potential places for biting midges to occur. Making sure these are emptied and dried out disrupts potential breeding cycles and aids in avoiding midges.
Hinder the further propagation of biting midges by setting carbon dioxide (CO2) traps. These commercially available traps are designed to leverage biting midges’ natural behavior of following CO2 trails or emissions to track prey. With these devices, though, instead of a vertebrate host, any midges that may be present in your space are then lured to fans that then suck them in, trapping them in cages or glue boards until they dehydrate and die. Making use of such traps is known to significantly decrease populations in as little as 7-10 days, making it easier for you to avoid midges.
3. Avoid Making Yourself An Easy Target
No-see-ums find blood meal sources through the heat and odors that vertebrate—often mammalian—prey give off. There are certain things that heighten these, and that you should therefore avoid.
One way to avoid midges is to try to prevent getting or staying sweaty. Human sweat is a potent carrier of lactic acid and other kairomones or chemical emissions that parasites and predators such as biting midges use to their advantage.
Keep yourself from being a target for midges by wearing lighter-colored clothing, as dark fabrics tend to heat up. Heightened body temperature and resulting sweat then attract no-see-ums.
Also, consider skipping that beer or cocktail at an outdoor party or barbecue to avoid midges. Alcohol not only raises body temperature and causes heavy sweating, but it also increases the body’s production of CO2 (again, a proven midge-bait) as the drink is metabolized.
4. Stay In The Breeze
Another surprisingly simple way to avoid midges is to stay in moderate to strong wind when relaxing and not moving about while outdoors. No-see-ums, as the moniker hints, are extremely small insects. So minuscule that in fact, wind is one of the major mechanisms for their dispersal across large distances.
Armed with this knowledge, you may opt to stay in the breeze while outside, or even use electric fans to create steady airflow to ensure no midges can get near you.
5. Plan Around Midge’s Active Times
Taking note of these pests’ behavioral patterns may also be useful in learning how to avoid midges.
While different species have different peak seasons and times of day, there are some useful rules of thumb to keep in mind. Biting midges generally seek hosts at dusk and dawn, being most active an hour before to an hour after each of these periods. It can therefore be prudent to avoid outdoor activity during twilight.
In terms of seasons, again, different species may occur at different times of the year. Regardless, the most common months for biting midges are the months of March to June, as these bring rain in many countries. Keeping this in mind may help to avoid midges on your next vacation.
HOW TO AVOID MIDGES, CONCLUSION
Always bear in mind that prevention is oftentimes better than cure. Why wait until there are swarms that must be eliminated or rely solely on finding remedies for bites when you can instead learn how to avoid midges?
Understanding biting midges’ patterns, as well as their needs and the mechanisms behind their biting behavior, is crucial in learning how to avoid these troublesome pests.