Garlic and MidgesGarlic has a reputation for helping to ward off mosquitoes, can it also help to prevent midge bites?
Midges (genus culicoides) are common arond the world. There are some 1400 species of midge known. Most of these are non-biting however a few do bite.
The Highland MidgeMost famous - or infamous - of these biting midges is the Highland biting midge, Culicoides impunctatus. Midges do prefer wet, uncultivated land - and there's certainly plenty of that in the Highlands - however the pests are found throughout Scotland. impunctatus is simply one of several biting species found across the country.
I speak from bitter - and bitten - experience!
The Biting Midge ProblemMidges like damp, warm conditions without too much sun. For this reason they are most common during the early morning or evening near to areas of natural water such as rivers or pools. They are often found in huge swarms and their bites can inflict considerable discomfort.
It is the female biting midge that actualy does the biting. She is a bloodsucker and needs to feed before laying her eggs. Midge bites are thus most of a problem during the late spring and early summer.
Midge ControlMidges can turn a pleasant Scottish garden into a no-go area during summer evenings.
To help counter this, a number of companies are now producing home devices for midge control - similar devices are often also sold for mosquito control. These generally work by attracting nearby midges and then killing them. The number that can be collected in a single evening by a midge magnet or midge eater is quite amazing!
Obviously this is not a portable solution. For those on the go, there are a number of midge repellent creams and ointments available on the market. Many of these are the same products as those sold elsewhere for repelling mosquitos.
Since garlic has a reputation for deterring mosquito bites, it may well be that it can have a similar effect on the Scottish biting midge. A number of herbal barrier creams you can buy contain garlic extract for this purpose.
Unfortunately there doesn't yet seem to have been much solid scientific research into the subject. This is a shame as midges are a serious problem here in Scotland. If it was proven to be effective, garlic could be a powerful natural weapon in the fight against them.