Sandflies and mosquitoes are not easy to escape; they love spending time around flowing water, beaches, lakes and rivers. They also show up in humid areas and in the bush. And it’s only when they attack that you realise you left your insect repellent at home. Jennifer Hayto suggests how to keep those pesky insects at bay….
Early Maori used crushed ngaio leaves to help ward off insects. A mixture of ngaio and bracken/rarauhe fern soothes itchy bites. Reports suggest that vitamin B is also a deterrent, so foods such as Marmite or Vegemite might help you remain off the sandfly’s radar.
Some other natural repellents include: orange peel, citrus juice, eucalyptus, lemon grass, lavender, catnip, tea tree oil and vinegar. Basil leaves are also said to repel mosquitoes.
Sandflies and mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours, so by wearing lighter natural shades such as light green, khaki and tan, and by covering your arms, face, ankles and feet, you can very nearly guarantee those little fiends will not get you.
You’re an easy target if you’re standing or sitting still, so keep moving and sandflies and mosquitoes are less likely to bite.
Try not to smell too nice
Sweet smelling perfumes, moisturisers and deodorants attract sandflies.
Scratching at insect bites feels exceptionally good, but doing so prolongs the agony and can cause infection. Instead of scratching, gently massage the area and it’ll provide some relief without damaging the skin.
Become a bush resident
Over time the body creates a natural immunity to sandfly and mosquito bites – that’s why tourists to New Zealand tend to be the worst affected. So, the more you are bitten, the less you are likely to be affected in the future. Try telling that to the kids!
– Hayto is acting programme manager abseil, bush and risk management for the Mountain Safety Council