On midges, bug repellents and bite relief

Living in the west of Ireland is an enriching experience in so many ways. But there are inevitable downsides that balance the scales a little.
There's the weather. It's a cliché, but it's true - the west of Ireland can be a damp, dreary, drizzly place at times. It's no wonder everyone here is an amateur forecaster, and the weather is the standard conversation opener.

For most of us, there are also the insects, AKA 'those blasted yokes', that will send people sprinting indoors while looking like they were trying to dance enthusiastically while being mildly electrocuted.

Living in the west of Ireland means you have to be prepared to put up with the scourge of biting insects, particularly midges (dem feckin' midges to go by their Latin name), and to a lesser extent, mosquitoes. Midge bites are a fact of life for most of us, and this is something I've become a reluctant expert on.

Biting insects love me, and I mean love. I'm like an á la carte menu for the insufferable little blighters. It's the female midges that bite humans, as they hunt for valuable proteins to survive.
It was mainly for me that myself and Mrs Tús Nua set out to make a bug repellent, and also a bite relief serum for when the little feckers did attack me.

So why do they go for some people so voraciously and others are left completely alone?

As with most things, there are a few different reasons. The biggest cause of bites is your blood type. Most of us secrete a chemical signal through our skin that advertises our blood type, and this is what the insects pick up.
If you're Type O, then sadly you're the equivalent of a Michelin 3 Star restaurant for biting bugs. If you're Type A then you're less inclined to get bitten, and Type B people fall somewhere inbetween.

Another reason has to do with your body temperature. If you have a high body temperature, then you'll attract more insects. Similarly, if you're prone to sweating more than usual, then you'll be secreting that chemical I mentioned, not to mention ammonia, lactic acid, and other substances that insects love.
In other words, if you're an active person and exercise regularly, then you're going to attract more insects (Mrs Tús Nua thinks this is hilarious, by the way).
But also, if you drink alcohol, or if you're pregnant, the increase in your body temperature will attract them (both of these also cause you to emit more CO2 by breathing which also attracts them).

What increases the risk?

As well as all the above, environmental factors have a role here. If you're near water, bog, or grassland (basically all of Connemara), then you'll be more at risk.
When it's damp and humid (basically all of Connemara in summer), then there'll be more activity.
If you're out of direct sunlight, or disturbing their habitat, then you'll also be attracting them. So cutting the grass in the evening time should come with a warning.

What decreases the risk?

Obviously I'm going to be a bit cheeky here and use this opportunity to talk about our bug repellent. The thing is, I know it works, cos I was the subject of the experiment when we were trialling the combinations.
You know all those risk factors above? Well, I ticked almost all the boxes (except the pregnancy one, which would've been odd). In a two hour period one evening, I got 24 midge bites, and that is not unusual for me. Using the bug repellent, the bite count drops to almost zero for an evening. It works brilliantly, and I'm walking proof of that.

However, nothing works perfectly against biting insects, so you have to try a couple things. Using long layers to cover up will also help, as will burning citronella candles if you can. Wearing a hat or cap will also help.
Unfortunately, you can be almost completely covered up, with our amazing bug repellent covering your exposed skin, but the CO2 that you breathe will still attract them. So you might still find yourself in a swarm; even though they might not bite, it's still unpleasant.

That's all very grim, is there any good news?

Well, yes, there is a little. Midges make for great food for bats. A bat will consume up to 3000 midges a day, so more midges means a very healthy bat population.

And of course, if you do end up unfortunately getting bitten, we do have an oustanding bite relief serum that'll help reduce the itching and inflammation.

 

 

 


2 comments

  • The repellent is AMAZING. Tried and tested this weekend while sitting out in garden late evening! Kept all the little midges away for sure, normally I’m a feast for them !

    Yvonne Chan
  • This product really works. Have always used deet on the Connemara hills and woodlands, but had the opportunity to purchase Tus Nua repellent and behold the natural oils really work. Another plus is it smells great.

    Paul Brown

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