How to deal with Scottish midges

We are often asked how to keep our Scottish midges at bay whilst on your holidays in Scotland. And whilst you may want to pack a few items for the evenings to keep the Scottish midges at bay, you really don’t need to worry too much! As we are an island, the sea breeze will keep the midges at bay. But, if you are heading inland, don’t fear – we have some clever ways to stop midges from bothering you. 

What does a midge bite feel like?

Don’t worry, a midge bite isn’t particularly sore or serious. The insects are super tiny and their bite is rather minor – itchy more than painful. And this is the core issuue – they can be quite itchy post bite too! And if you have one bite you will usually have many more to appear, as midges live in swarms. Their bite for some develops into a small red mark with a minor itchy lump. But they will go away after a day or so leaving no mark behind.

Some people seem more susceptible to bites than others. One person can barely be bitten whilst the person standing next to them is covered in red lumps from bites. We tend to say that people who get bitten a lot have ‘good blood’! It is said they like the blood of people who like sweet foods!

How to avoid Scottish midges

Our wee Scottish Midges come out in the evening. So the best way to avoid getting bitten by midges is to enjoy exploring inland during the day. They won’t come indoors, so you can relax in your accommodation, a local pub or a restaurant in comfort. However doing this means you won’t get to see the beautiful Scottish countryside at sunset. Furthermore, who wants to be on an evening curfew when on holiday on our beautiful Scottish Island? Also, midges don’t follow you. So, if you are out exploring, keep moving. Whilst on the move, they will be kept mostly at bay. But do try and stay off long grasses and heathers where you may disturb and wake the midges. Stick to the paths so you don’t disturb them and wake them up for a bite!

They also like to live near lochs, and streams. Gentle, non salt, waters. So avoid these locations in the eveinings. And stick close to the sea. Further, they won’t bother you in the water, so why not take for a swim and wash them away!

Where do Scottish midges live?

So when you are outside, consider the places midges like to live. They most enjoy being in the shade and they like nice calm weather. So to avoid them, if you can find a nice sunny spot with a breeze, then there will be far fewer midges around to bother you. Which is ideal for us being an island! As the Islay coastline offers the perfect sea breeze to blow our Scottish midges away. Peatzeria sits on the Bowmore coastline, overlooking the sea. Perfect for sitting outdoors, and enjoying and evening of al fresco dining.

Midges are seasonal

Also, the time of year has an impact on how many midges you might find. The Scottish Highland midge season tends to be May to September. However it isn’t until around June that the biting really begins. Late autumn through to winter, and early spring, is the perfect time to visit Scotland if you want to avoid midges completely – as during these months, they are asleep in the ground.

Best Scottish midge repellant

If you ask people in Scotland what the best Scottish midge repellant is, you’ll end up with a mixed bag of home remedies, shop-bought sprays and head nets. Truthfully, some will work, others will not. It often depends on who is wearing the spray. 

A popular midge-specific spray called Smidge comes highly recommended from many people. Give it a try and let us know if it works. Another, and probably one of the most raved about midge repellents is Avon’s Skin So Soft. This can be bought in a dry oil spray, or as a body lotion and works a treat.

A woman in hat and dress spraying Scottish midge repellant on her face

Whilst not made specifically to ward off midges, many anglers, walker, climbers and outdoors people swear by it. Some also say that dabbing yourself with essential oils can cause a strong smell midges don’t like. This could be lemon, eucalyptus or lavender. Again, give it a try and see if it works for you.

But if you don’t want to wear a cream or repelant, another solution is smoke. Midges dislike burning, so dining next to a BBQ, pizza oven or citronella candles is another popular way to ward the midges away.

Midge head nets

You can also buy midge head nets which cover your entire head in a very fine mesh with a drawstring around your neck to make sure no midges can creep in. If you are heading deep into the countryside at the height of midge season, these are absolutely worth investing in. Remember to cover your hands too – a thin pair of gloves will do the trick. However if you insist on delving into the heart of Scotland with nothing on but shorts and t-shirt well…good luck to you! 

But don’t let midges put you off

If you are considering a trip to Islay in summer, please don’t let midges put you off. It really is few and far between occasions that these wee beasties cause any irritation. And so you are sure to happily enjoy our beautiful island year-round without any problems! Our Scottish midges are no match for intrepid adventurers! So, simply slap on some cream, bring a long sleeve top/jacket with a hood and carry on with the best of Scottish holidays. After all, there’s a beautiful country to explore here. And if you do need an escape, relax with a delicious pizza by the sea. We also have Islay holiday accommodation in Bowmore, away from the Midges.