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Protect against Biting Midges

Biting midges hatch from their mangrove breeding sites around the half moon period and begin spreading out in the area around the mangroves a few days later, around the full or new moon periods.

To avoid painful bites people need to stay away from places where midges breed, particularly within a couple of kilometres of coastal mangroves and especially during the hour either side of sunrise and sunset, when they are most active.

The saliva that mangrove biting midges inject into their human hosts contains chemicals that cause pain and swelling, particularly for newcomers to the NT.

Soothing lotions and ice packs can offer some relief for the red, itchy welts often caused by midge bites, however medical attention can be required if reactions are more severe.

It's extremely important that people avoid scratching the bites because this can easily break the skin, introducing bacteria that can lead to infected sores.

Female biting midges disperse out of the mangroves after they have mated and laid their first batch of eggs in their mangrove breeding places. They then need a blood meal for their second batch of eggs to mature, so actively search for victims, which can include people.

If you are in a high pest area, it is essential to cover up with long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, socks and shoes and apply DEET or picaridin-based repellents. Insecticide coils, mosquito lanterns and insecticide barrier applications are also helpful.

In the Top End, the greatest numbers of midges are experienced during the late Dry Season and Build Up, from August to November, with high numbers three days either side of a new moon which can then double for the same time around a full moon.

Areas in Darwin and Palmerston that will see increased midge activity include:

Moderate
  • Ludmilla Creek
  • Rapid Creek
Moderate to High
  • Rapid Creek near creek mouth
  • East Point near Lake Alexander
  • Alawa edge
  • Stuart Park
  • Winnellie harbour edge
  • Coonawarra
  • Durack edge
  • Driver edge
  • Moulden edge
  • Archer
  • Bellamack
High to Very High
  • Palmerston rural residential areas within 1 km of harbour-fronting mangroves.
Very High
  • Sadgroves Creek /Charles Darwin Park
  • Hudson Creek
  • Mouth of Buffalo Creek/Lee Point
  • Wickham Point area
  • Leichardt Creek
  • Lee Point
  • Elizabeth River near Palmerston
  • Channel Island

A 2011 calendar detailing expected biting midge periods is available at:
http://www.health.nt.gov.au/Medical_Entomology/Insect_Pest_Periods/index.aspx

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