UKC

Keeping the clegs off

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 Starky 21 Jul 2021

For the last few years I've been wearing 105 merino tops for hillwalking year-round. I've been really impressed with them as they are a great base layer in the winter and they don't cause me to overheat in the summer. The midges (and sand flies in NZ) can't bite me through them. Similar to this - https://www.ortovox.com/uk-en/shop/men/p45987-base-layer-short-105-ultra-short-sleeve-m

I've been bagging some Munros in the NW Highlands over the last few days and the clegs have been pretty horrendous. To my dismay I have found that they will happily bite me THROUGH my merino top.

Are there better materials that are lightweight and breathable that clegs can't bite through? Or do I need to start doing something like soaking my top in smidge?!

In reply to Starky:

If a fabric is thin enough to comfortably wear in summer then clegs will probably find a way. Smidge and a big fly swat may be your best options. Do it all at a jog and don't stop if the wind drops.

 Fiona Reid 21 Jul 2021
In reply to Starky:

Thin clothing doesn't stop them, they just chomp straight through it. 

Smidge on exposed skin and don't stop till above cleg level was our approach last week. They stopped at about 300m last week. The even warmer weather means cleg height may now be on the summits though ☹️

Post edited at 09:31
 Starky 21 Jul 2021

Cleg height was about 500m on Monday and they were up to the peaks on Tuesday.

I ran down Fionn Bheinn to escape them yesterday despite the 38L backpack I was carrying!

 99ster 21 Jul 2021
In reply to Starky:

I've seen them bite through a wetsuit.  Their mouth parts are basically a set of razor sharp blades that enable to go through animal hide - so a thin layer of clothing is no defence.  And then of course, our delicate skin is just tissue paper.

youtube.com/watch?v=fsb0iV71MXc&

They really are out in big numbers now - and they're hungry.  We had no choice but to turn around and retreat on Monday (North Wales) - never had to do that before.

In reply to Starky:

Do anyone know whether clothes treated with Permethrin (e.g. Lifesystems EX4) help?

 Mike-W-99 21 Jul 2021
In reply to Starky:

Not wearing dark coloured clothing seems to help a bit too. They are bad at them moment but not at 2018 levels..yet.

 99ster 21 Jul 2021
In reply to Mike-W-99:

> Not wearing dark coloured clothing seems to help a bit too. 

Yes - that's a good tip.

 crayefish 21 Jul 2021
In reply to Starky:

If it's summer and you're sweaty, try eating large quantities of garlic (I don't need an excuse for that).

I suffer from extremely tasty blood but find it helpful for discouraging many biting nasties (and other walkers)... untested on horse flies though.  Worth a shot?

 Tringa 21 Jul 2021
In reply to crayefish:

Smidge certainly discourages them from landing, at least on me.

However, they are persistent and often the flying along with you just in front of your face is annoying(as was the one which landed  and sat on one of the lenses of my glasses), and when it comes to biting we all know they punch well above their weight.

I was walking in the low hills east of Gairloch about ten days ago and while there were a few around they were not a bother - guess I was just lucky.

But they are wonderful looking insects.

Dave

Post edited at 14:13
 Mike-W-99 21 Jul 2021
In reply to Tringa:

> But they are wonderful looking insects.

Indeed they are, https://naturalhistorymuseum.blog/2016/05/27/tabanidae-horseflies-curator-of-diptera/

got bitten by one of the rarer ones last week(or at least one I hadn’t seen before). It looked innocent so I left it alone, next thing I got a small nip and off it flew before i managed to deal with it.

Post edited at 14:16
 Tringa 20:23 Sat
In reply to Mike-W-99:

> got bitten by one of the rarer ones last week(or at least one I hadn’t seen before). It looked innocent so I left it alone, next thing I got a small nip and off it flew before i managed to deal with it.


Thanks for the link Mike, and especially the link within your link. I've read about clegs having saw-like mouthparts, but had not seen photos of them before.

Dave

 gravy 21:58 Sat
In reply to Tringa:

When do the buggers decline in numbers?

In reply to Starky:

> For the last few years I've been wearing 105 merino tops for hillwalking year-round. 

Doesn't that get a tad sweaty in warm weather?

 colinakmc 22:20 Sat
In reply to Starky:

This might sound a bit mad, but might be worth eating a diet rich in garlic. I (touch wood) hardly ever have any trouble with clegs or ticks.

Midges, though…

In reply to gravy:

Lots of clegs in Torridon yesterday but had none today despite same weather.

I don't like clegs but find them pretty manageable because most of the time they can be felt and squashed before they bite, and, if they do bite, it is a short, sharp shock with no itching afterwards. 

 aln 07:20 Sun
In reply to Robert Durran:

I don't like clegs but find them pretty manageable because most of the time they can be felt and squashed before they bite, and, if they do bite, it is a short, sharp shock with no itching afterwards. 

My experience is the opposite. Bouldering at Inchbae a few years ago they were everywhere, after 15 bites in a couple of hours we gave up and left. I didn't feel anything until I felt the bite, and later the bites came up in lumps that itched for a week. 

 Fat Bumbly2 09:17 Sun
In reply to Robert Durran:

Was In Radnorshire last week, The local clegs bite on contact, no amnesty time in which to splat them like I am used to here.

Anyone keep score of how many they take out.  Are we putting selective pressure on them

In reply to aln:

> My experience is the opposite. Bouldering at Inchbae a few years ago they were everywhere, after 15 bites in a couple of hours we gave up and left. I didn't feel anything until I felt the bite, and later the bites came up in lumps that itched for a week. 

Fair enough. That must be grim. I found out fairly recently that, for some people, midge bites don't itch. Strangely the person who admitted this moans a lot about midges - they don't know how lucky they are!

In reply to Fat Bumbly2:

> Was In Radnorshire last week, The local clegs bite on contact, no amnesty time in which to splat them like I am used to here.

> Anyone keep score of how many they take out.  Are we putting selective pressure on them.

The border should be closed to keep out this variant.

 Tringa 13:39 Sun
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Lots of clegs in Torridon yesterday but had none today despite same weather.

> I don't like clegs but find them pretty manageable because most of the time they can be felt and squashed before they bite, and, if they do bite, it is a short, sharp shock with no itching afterwards. 


I too am one of the lucky one. They bite, it hurts(I think they must have one of the most painful bites of any UK insect) and after I have knocked them off it often bleeds, but after that - nothing.

Mrs Tringa, in contrast, comes out in swollen itchy wheals after a cleg bite. I don't know if it is connected but she is also a magnet for ticks. In a couple of weeks in Gairloch earlier this month I took loads of ticks off her but I barely had any.

Dave

In reply to Tringa:

> Mrs Tringa, in contrast, comes out in swollen itchy wheals after a cleg bite. I don't know if it is connected but she is also a magnet for ticks. In a couple of weeks in Gairloch earlier this month I took loads of ticks off her but I barely had any.

Maybe. I too rarely get ticks while people I am with can get loads despite being paranoid (probably justifiably) in their precautions.

 Fiona Reid 18:30 Sun
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I don't like clegs but find them pretty manageable because most of the time they can be felt and squashed before they bite, and, if they do bite, it is a short, sharp shock with no itching afterwards. 

You're lucky. I'm one of the folks that can react badly to them. Sometimes a sore red lump, but usually masses of swelling and a red hot area 5-10cm in all directions from the bite. Last week I got bitten twice and one swelled up enough around my elbow that 2 fingers lost partial sensation for 24 hours due to the pressure on a nerve from the swelling.

If I'm really unlucky then a trip to minor injuries for steroids, antihistamines and antibiotics you could kill a horse with. Thankfully that's only happened once and I've had loads of bites since so probably just got unlucky 

I really don't like them. 

Post edited at 18:31
 Fiona Reid 18:39 Sun
In reply to Tringa:

Mrs Tringa has my sympathies. 

I react badly to them too and also tend to get more ticks than my other half but not excessively so. I must taste or smell nice to beasties. 

Smidge is worth a try for clegs. I'd only ever used it against midge before (it only works on midge when they aren't at plague level) but tried it last week on clegs and it definitely seems to stop them landing on the skin you've applied Smidge to.

After I started using Smidge I didn't get any more bites. A fair number landed on my trousers and I splatted them but not a single one landed on arms, face etc where I'd applied the Smidge. 

 Fiona Reid 18:44 Sun
In reply to Fat Bumbly2:

> Anyone keep score of how many they take out.  Are we putting selective pressure on them

2 bites last week, at least 40 splatted by me alone. I like the ones that are dozy enough to sit and think about it before chomping down. 

We definitely don't want the bite on contact variant in Scotland. They are bad enough already. 

 Fat Bumbly2 22:31 Sun
In reply to Fiona Reid:

I took great care not bring them back with me.

 gravy 08:56 Mon
In reply to Robert Durran:

"if they do bite, it is a short, sharp shock with no itching afterwards. "

You lucky, lucky, sod. 

If they bite me it's a scotch egg size maddeningly itchy swelling with a marrow fat pea sized lump of necrotic tissue that falls out after about a week and only then heals up. errgh.

 Frank R. 10:08 Mon
 HannahC 10:32 Mon
In reply to colinakmc:

A lot of people feed horses a garlic supplement in the summer as it's believed to help ward off horse flies.

People also use white mesh fly rugs which they can't/don't bite through, maybe there is a market for making them for people? Although the Scottish one are probably worse than the ones down South and can bite through anything... 

 Starky 11:44 Mon
In reply to Robert Durran:

I find that the 105g/m2 merino works really well in summer - it doesn't get too hot. Ortovox don't seem to sell it anymore though, maybe it's tough to get at the moment.

My strategy for Liatach last Thursday was to put a layer of smidge on my entire torso and then put a t-shirt on over. That seemed to do the trick! 

I saw a guy at the top of Stùc a' Choire Dhubh Bhig with an electric flyswatter. Normally I would have chuckled at this but it seemed appropriate!

 wercat 14:12 Mon
In reply to Starky:

for the head, smear skin with peat or mud till caked on then wear a light merino balaclava for ears, neck and mouth.  Round off with ski goggles for eyes.

In reply to Starky:

> I find that the 105g/m2 merino works really well in summer - it doesn't get too hot.

Apologies for a weak attempt at humour. Probably helps not to have any idea what the 105 signifies.

 BuzyG 18:51 Mon
In reply to Starky:

I'm itching just sat in the lounge after reading this thread. Suddenly I love the SW moors even more in the summer months.


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