There’s been a bit of comment on the TGO Challenge message board that this year’s Challenge might be plagued with midges and ticks. The mild winter has led to an early appearance of midges and ticks. Indeed, I’ve even noticed here, down south, there are a lot of midges about, fortunately the non-biting kind. I’m doing a low level route with a number of pitches near lochs. Glen Etive and Glen Coe have a reputation for midges, so it seemed like a good idea to look into some ways to combat the insect menace.
I had bought some “normal” bug repellent, but some inquiries and research suggested that extra special measures are required against the Scottish midge. Reputedly, Smidge is the most effective deterrent, so a can was ordered. Delivery was amazingly quick. I ordered in the afternoon and it was with me the next morning. I tested a small amount on the back of my hand to ensure I wasn’t allergic. The aroma is a not unpleasant citrus smell. It comes out of the can as a light cream which is easy to spread. The metal can makes it a bit heavy at 106g, but I’m not sure that I can decant it to anything else. There’s easily enough for two weeks.
As I can’t spread the Smidge onto clothing, I’ve bought some PreVent natural pyrethrum. I intend to spray some on to the top of my boots and around the bottom of my trousers, more to ward off ticks than midges. I’ve also bought some cotton stretch bands that I can impregnate and use around use around my ankles or wrists. PreVent weighs 41g. Possibly I could use this instead of Smidge, but Smidge might be more effective.
For inside the tent, I pondered whether to take some mosquito coils but there is some debate over their effectiveness and toxicity. Instead, I’m taking the Lifesystems portable mosquito killer. This is a battery powered unit that disperses Transfluthrin, which is harmless to humans but fatal to insects. It is very lightweight at 76g (without two AA batteries). The repellent cartridge lasts for about seven nights so should easily be enough for one crossing. It is completely silent and seems to me to be quite a neat way of killing unwanted insects in a tent with no health or fire risk. Mine cost £10, but you can get them a bit cheaper.
Last, but not least I bought some After Bite in case I do get bitten. I shall also be taking some antihistamines, which I will need for allergies anyway. Last but not least, I have some tick twister tick removers in case I pick one up, as well as a mirror for tick inspections. Total weight for all this is c.250g, which is a bit more than I’d like. I’ll share the batteries with my shaver for the Lifesystems unit. I’m also talking to Sean about a simple bug bivvy, very lightweight for lunch stops.