When I was younger I used to get picked on by midges something terrible, far worse than my mates and did they bite and the itch! It drove me nuts. Something to do with my high metabolic rate, body heat, carbon dioxide and the odour from my rock boots - yes they were boots in those days.
Whether I was at Wilton Quarries in Lancashire, Kilnsey Crag up in Yorkshire or up in the Lakes - please don't mention Scotland as the memories and the scars from the clan Culicoides Impunctatus are too painful - those bastards got me. When I moved to the US it was the black flies of New Hampshire that attacked on me, then the mosquitoes of California's Sierra Nevada. A life in the outdoors plagued by insects. I blame it on Adam and Eve. If only they hadn't eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, him up there wouldn't have invented the wee beasties and we could all climb in peace in the Garden of Eden.
Even in Pembroke last week - nice sea breeze blowing, blue sky and sunny. You sit down to belay at the top of crag and the buggers are hiding just over the edge of the cliff, swarming in the shade away from the sun and the breeze, all around my legs and head - SUCKING MY BLOOD!
In the UK just as the weather starts to turn good after another winter of discontent under a gray dome of nothing and rain, we all run to the crags and the hills, then quite often, run back to the car to shelter from a storm of two-winged devils who land on us and gorge on our fluids.
They pierce our skin, suck our blood and inject us with a mixture of saliva and chemicals.
The itch and the pain drives us to distraction and turns our arms red and bumpy. Aaaaarrrggghhhhh.
In our eyes, hair, in our ears, our mouth, even down the front of your underwears, they get everywhere.
The two staples of Scottish climbing. Avon's Skin-So-Soft and beer.Perhaps you have experience of the midge!
But sometimes you can't run - and hey why should you? Why let some tiny insect dictate what we do? Dunkirk spirit and all that, for godsake.
First plan of attack is avoidance. Go where midges dare not.
If it's still, no wind, they'll be out.
At dusk or dawn, with little sunlight they'll be frolicking.
They love damp spots, still water, ponds, slow moving water.
They love the mountains and heathlands.
In short you are safe on windy and sunny days, away from water, and near urban areas. No, avoidance isn't going to work.
Then there is chemical warfare.
There are various lotions you can put on your skin to mask your attractive scent and stuff that repels them: DEET, citronella, eucalyptus oils, bog myrtle and of course Avon's Skin So Soft Body Oil.
The Bug Bucket is made of UV-resistant fabric that protects you from intense sunlight - extra useful if you are a little thin on top
The next favourite is to put a barrier between you and them, just cover up; long a favourite of fishermen. Garb yourself in midge netting. Not practical if you are on the move over the hills or gymnastically making progress up a vertical rock face. But if you wear light coloured clothing, cover your legs and arms, you could just net over your face.
So here is a chance for you to try an Outdoor Research Bug Bucket - it's not just a net over your face however as it also doubles as a sun hat. And Outdoor Research have ten Bug Buckets to give away....PLUS £500 in additional Outdoor Research gear.
This sun bucket has a no-see-um headnet that protects your face and neck from insects. It can be rolled up over the brim of the hat or tucked under the crown when it's not needed. It can be stuffed into a hidden pocket in the crown when it's time to pack up.
Avg. Weight (oz./g): 2.7 / 77
SolarShield™ construction; UPF 30+
Supplex® nylon fabric
No-see-um netting hangs from edge of brim and keeps bugs and no-see-ums off face and neck
Netting can be pulled up over brim or stuffed inside crown when not needed
Drawcord closure seals netting around neck
TransAction™ headband for comfort and moisture management