Are you one of the thousands of people who suffer from insect bites during the better weather? Me too!
I don’t know what it is about me, but mosquitoes and midges seem to love to feast on me. Once bitten I tend to come out in the biggest and itchiest spots ever and it’s never just one bit it is always multiples. This may be something to do with the fact once they find a food source, they give off a pheromone to signal to others to come and feast.
I’ve now tried many different lotions and potions, bracelets and patches as well as electronic repellents and thought I’d share my best products with you lovely people. I’ve tried both products with and without deet in them but prefer to use deet free products and even the odd natural product if I am caught out or to ease the itching once bitten.
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The Females of the Species Are Deadlier Than the Male!
This is true in this case anyway as it is only the females that bite and feed on us humans while the males will feed on pollen. This is true for both midges and mosquitoes.
The reason for this is that females emerge with only enough fat reserves for one batch of eggs and if they are to lay more eggs they need to stock up on nutrients and fats to do this. This is why they feast on our blood.
While midges will feed more from animals than humans (although it doesn’t always feel like that), mosquitoes will only choose humans for feeding.
Mosquitoes will lay their eggs in the water while midges lay them in soil mud. Both areas where us campers like to be around when away on our leisure time.
Midge Weather (as we call it in Scotland)
There are times and weather conditions that will also affect getting bitten by either of these little blighters.
Around dawn and dusk when the light is low are the times when you are most likely to get bitten by both mosquitoes and midges.
They do not like direct and strong sunlight nor do they like it if it’s too breezy. Midges will rarely come out if the wind speed is above 7mph as they are so small they get blown about and mosquitoes can’t handle it if it gets much higher either.
However, if it’s drizzly rain and humid they will most certainly be out and about looking for their next feeding source.
Repellents come in many forms these days from creams, oils, sprays, bracelets, patches, wipes, electronic gadgets and nets. We normally talk about them in three ways. Deet products, deet free products and natural products.
Deet (diethyltoluamide) is a slightly yellowish oil that is used in repellent and does not dilute in water and has been used from 1946 after being developed by the U.S. Army. Deet is a toxin and is absorbed through the skin although not thought to be harmful to humans it is very harmful to fish and other water-dwelling creatures.
This is why we tend to stay deet free with our repellents as we do not want to be responsible for spreading toxins anywhere in nature. Deet is also banned in some countries.
Our Top 5 Repellents
****Edit**** Updated June 2020
Beastie Be Gone
Since writing this post we have come across a NEW all-natural insect repellent that WORKS!
We had the chance to review Beastie Be Gone by Anderson Aromatics. An all-natural insect repellent salve. This comes in a cute little tin, which makes it easy to carry on your person at all times and not only does it work as a repellent but also as a salve to soothe insect bites.
This means if you do get bitten because you have forgotten to put on a repellent or you have been caught unaware that you can use this salve to calm the itching and inflammation from the bite. I love this as it means it is a great all-in-one product for camping trips.
You can read the full review by clicking on the following link Beastie Be Gone – Insect Repellent Review
Smidge was developed and tested in Scotland, where the midges are plentiful. Many people in the UK often ask about the midges when coming to Scotland, especially the highland.
This works by the Smidge ingredients throwing midges and mosquitoes off our scent.
Smidge can be used from ages 2+ and is effective for up to 8 hours.
Smidge does not contain Deet.
I often use smidge when out and about. I first purchased a few years back when heading up north of Scotland on a trip and it did me proud. Although I still got a few bites (2-3 over a weekend), this could have been more with me forgetting to re-apply later in the day. A great product with a pleasant scent.
Pitch & Trek Bracelets
They are designed to be worn on ankles and wrists to mask your smell. They use all-natural ingredients in the repellent. These are 60% Geranium Oil, 25% Lemongrass Oil, 10% Citronella and 5% Lemon Oil.
We love that you can put these bracelets on and just forget about your protection from insect pests for the rest of your holiday. They even keep you protected during the night and early in the morning, times when most bites occur. This is often due to either not having protection on or having washed it off in the shower.
These are fantastic for kids with their bright colours, but I would be careful with toddlers due to the design as they could become a choking hazard.
Skin So Soft Original
Skin so Soft from Avon, although available elsewhere has been used by many people with mixed results at times. There are a few dry oils from Skin so Soft, but it is the original one that is used for an insect repellent.
This is a dry oil spray that can be used all over your skin and will not leave you oily or sticky as some others do. The product contains citronella in jojoba oil.
I remember reading that the Forestry Commission recommended this oil as an insect repellent but unsure if this is true or not.
I have used this several times with success as an insect repellent. If you store in a cool or cold place the liquid will solidify. If this happens simply place in some warm water or out in the sun and it will come back to its liquid form.
USB Rechargeable Camping Insect Repellent and Light
We reckon that this is a great little bit of kit for your tent. As well as being an insect repellent it is also a light and it runs for up to 36 hours before you need to recharge it via the USB port. With a retractable hook and being lightweight, it is worth spending a few extra pounds to get this if you are going to purchase a light anyway.
The ultraviolet light attracts any flying insects in a 5m radius and will kill them on contact. This is great for inside your tent in the evening to ensure all biting bugs are gone before you settle to sleep. Simply close up the tent, open bedroom pod doors and switch on. With three light modes, you’ll be able to get ready to settle down for the evening while the bug zapper rids your tent of pests.
If any stick to the light you can simply rinse under running water to clean before storing away until your next trip.
Thermacell MR300 Insect Repeller
The Thermacell Repeller works using a butane gas cartridge to gently heat an insertable insect repellent cartridge to give off a repellent for a 15ft radius wherever you are.
These are great for using outdoors, whether on the beach or in the garden it will keep the area you are using pest free.
You can also buy a holster clip so it can be used while you are on the go. So if you like to get and about while camping this is a great solution.
You can purchase the Thermacell MR300 here.
This is on the more expensive side of our top 5 and also uses consumables such as the gas and insect repellent cartridges but if you don’t like to wear creams or lotions and the bracelets are not your thing, well this could be it.
A more macho approach to killing off those pesky bugs while you just get on and do your thing. Whether having a BBQ or climbing a mountain simply turn on and be fully protected within 15 minutes.
If you know you are going somewhere that the midges or mosquitoes are particularly bad it is worth considering other options such as mosquito head nets or suits. We carry our head nets just in case when we go camping, more to keep them off our hair, in areas we know are notorious for midges and mosquitoes.
Treatment After a Bite
If you do happen to get a bite, there are many ways you can treat it depending on where you are.
Bites can often become raised, itchy spots and if like me, they can drive you mad with the itch. But you must try hard not to scratch as this is what can cause infection. Any dirt under your nail can cause the bite site to become infected if you scratch. It will also continue to itch.
Scratching also removes layers of skin around the bite and this is what will cause a scab to form over the bite site in the days following a bite. These can be a little unsightly and may also leave you with a small scar if you are not careful.
The best treatment is to apply some antihistamine cream direct to the bite site. I personally would recommend Anthisan cream.
If you have no cream at hand you can also use something alcohol-based to ease the itch. I have often used vinegar, aftershave, alcohol-based hand wash and even a squeeze of lemon juice all to help relieve the itch.
You can also help disperse the histamines which cause the itching with a hot or cold treatment. Apply a cool pack or ice cube for cold dispersal or dip a teaspoon in some hot water and place over the bite for a few minutes for a hot dispersal.
What Are Your Favourite Products and Remedies?
We hope you have enjoyed this read and it has helped. If so feel free to share so others can enjoy it too, you may just save someone from a nasty attack of these little blighters.
If you have a favourite product or remedy why not leave us a comment and share with other campers and outdoor enthusiasts.