Biting midges on the rise

This is the time of the year when biting midges are out in force. High numbers are expected from 8 to 14 August coinciding with the new moon, with a further increase around the full moon from 23 to 29 August.

Director of Medical Entomology Nina Kurucz advised Top End residents and visitors to avoid midge bites by covering up, using insect repellents and avoiding mangrove areas where biting midges are present, especially late in the afternoon and early in the morning.

“Cover up with a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, socks and shoes and apply DEET or picaridin-based insect repellents to exposed skin,” Ms Kurucz said.

“Mosquito lanterns and insecticide barrier applications in backyards also help to reduce numbers.”

Highest biting midge numbers will occur within 1.5 km of extensive areas of NT coastal mangroves.

“Due to increasing tides, peak biting midge activity will occur from now until the first heavy monsoonal rains occur. Numbers are highest three days before and after full moons, and to a lesser extent around new moons,” Ms Kurucz said.

“The pain, swelling and itchiness biting midge bites can cause is due to the chemicals contained in the saliva injected into the human hosts.

“Although biting midges do not transmit disease, people should avoid scratching the bites because this can easily break the skin, introducing bacterial infections that can lead to unsightly sores and infections.”

While soothing lotions and ice packs may provide relief from itchy bites, severe reactions may require medical attention.

A 2018 calendar detailing expected biting midge pest periods is available at:

https://nt.gov.au/wellbeing/emergencies-injuries-and-accidents/bites-and-stings/insects-of-medical-importance

Contact: Tess Nekrasov

Phone: 0427 596 954

Last updated: 07 August 2018