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First Aid For Midge Bites – And 4 Ways To Avoid Them

Midgebites 1

Table of Contents

Sharon McCulloch


  • Midges are small flying insects commonly found in Australia, particularly near water.
  • Some midges, known as biting midges, can bite humans, but they are not particularly dangerous.
  • Midge bites resemble mosquito bites, with raised red lumps that may spread and become itchy.
  • Midge bites can last up to two weeks and may cause discomfort, itching, and skin irritation.
  • First aid or remote first aid for midge bites includes washing the area with warm water and soap, using cold water or antihistamine medication to reduce itching, and avoiding scratching to prevent infection.

Ever see those swirling clouds of tiny, tiny bugs at dusk on a warm night – particularly near or over water? In case you don’t know, those are what we call Midges, and they’re incredibly common in Australia. And, to answer the first two questions that people have about most Australian wildlife, no, they don’t sting humans, and yes – they can bite. Fortunately, they’re not particularly dangerous, and first aid for midge bites is relatively straightforward.

Midges aren’t so much a species as a broad category of small flying insects. In many countries, the terms “Midge” and “Gnat” are used interchangeably. However, some experts use the words to refer to different types of insects (or regard them as separate categories with some overlap).

What Do Midges Look Like?

Some midges, known as midgie insects or biting midges, bear a resemblance to mosquitoes in their appearance. These miggie insects in Australia, including biting midges found in QLD, have bodies and wings with a dark brown coloring. They share this characteristic with mosquitoes, but there are distinct differences.

Midge Characteristics - what does a midge look like

While some midges look similar to mosquitoes, with bodies and wings displaying a dark brown coloration, their bodies extend beyond their wings. This sets them apart from mosquitoes. However, it’s important to note that not all midges in Australia have the same appearance as mosquitoes.

Biting midges, specifically, have a stocky and fly-like appearance. They have bodies that are more compact and stout compared to mosquitoes. Additionally, the length of their wings is typically equal to or slightly shorter than their body length.

When it comes to female biting midges, their bodies undergo changes during feeding. As they draw blood, the female midges’ bodies expand, taking on a reddish-brown coloration. This expansion is necessary for them to acquire blood nutrients required for egg development.

By recognising these distinguishing characteristics, such as the stocky fly-like body shape, shorter wings relative to the body, and the expansion and reddish-brown colour of the female’s body during feeding, it becomes easier to differentiate biting midges from other insects, including mosquitoes.

Understanding the appearance of midges, particularly the features of biting midges, helps in identifying them accurately. This knowledge can be useful in adopting suitable preventive measures to reduce exposure and minimise the chances of midge bites in areas like QLD, Australia.

Do All Midges Bite?

No. Among the many species of Midge in Australia, some bite, and others don’t. The most notorious biters are appropriately called “Biting Midges” – known in Australia (incorrectly) as “Sandflies”, and to scientists by the family name Ceratopogonidae. They’re found all over the world, except for Antarctica. They’re commonly known as “No-see-ums” in the US, as victims will often feel the bite without ever seeing the Midge itself – an adult biting midge is smaller than an average rice grain, at around 1-3mm in length.

There are other species of biting Midge in the world – including the Highland Midge found in northern Europe. In Australia alone, we have over 200 species of Midges that bite. That said, the great majority of those species don’t attack humans, and there are many more species of Midge that don’t bite at all. So you don’t need to be fleeing for cover the moment you see a swirling cloud of midges over the nearest pond.

What Do Midge Bites Look Like?

Midge bites are initially quite similar in appearance to mosquito bites – a small, raised red lump, possibly with a broader region of redness surrounding it. The patch of redness will typically spread out around the bite – often around 3-5cm out from the bite zone. It’s pretty likely that there will be a large number of bites – midges tend to hang out in large numbers, so if one starts biting, he probably won’t be alone.

Midge bites tend to be itchy (again, like mosquito bites), so it’s pretty standard for the area around the bites to be red and irritated from scratching. This can sometimes scrape the skin off the bite, turning it into an open sore. You might also have red welts on the skin.

In some cases, a victim can get blisters forming around the bite site – although this is not common.

How Long Do Midge Bites Last?

Midge bites can be reasonably persistent, lasting up to two weeks as red lumps or sores (possibly linked together by a red rash or welt). They last a lot longer than mosquito bites because the bite causes more damage – mosquitos inject a syringe-like tube into your skin to drain out blood while biting midges actually cut your skin open with special cutters around their mouths. The cut is tiny, but it can still hurt a lot.

The duration of midge bites can vary depending on various factors, including individual sensitivity, the severity of the bites, and how the bites are managed. In general, midge bites typically last for a few days to a couple of weeks.

During the first few hours or days after being bitten by midges, you may experience immediate symptoms such as redness, swelling, itching, and discomfort at the site of the bite. These symptoms can intensify over the first 24 to 48 hours.

After the initial acute phase, the symptoms of midge bites usually begin to subside gradually. The redness and swelling may start to fade, and the itching should become less intense. However, the healing process may take some time, and the affected area might remain slightly raised, discoloured, or itchy for several more days or weeks.

How To Treat Midge Bites?

First aid for midge bites is a reasonably straightforward business. Once you’ve recognised you may have been bitten by Midges (it can take a little time for the bites to become apparent), the first step is to wash the area with warm water and soap – preferably antibacterial soap, if you have it. This washes off any residual “Midgeyness” (Midge bites often leave saliva on the skin) and reduces the chance of infection.

Cold water on a clean cloth can be used to ease symptoms and soothe itchiness. Antihistamine medication can potentially lessen the reaction causing the itch (as well as some of the redness and welting), and analgesic or cortisone creams can soothe the skin. If the itch is particularly irritating, it’s probably a good idea to pay a visit to the chemist and ask for advice about insect bite treatments.

If cold isn’t helping much, there is some evidence that applying hot water directly to the bug-bite location can ease itching – breaking down compounds left in the bite by the Midge and disrupting the nerve signals relaying the itching sensation. This method involves heating water up as hot as you can stand (don’t use boiled water) and then dipping a cotton swab in the water and applying it to the bite for 5-10 seconds. The bite might sting for a few seconds and then ease after that. It’s best not to go straight from an ice-pack to hot water, though, as that could worsen the pain.

You should try very hard not to scratch, as you can scrape the top layer of skin of the bite area and turn the bite into a sore – one that’s quite likely to get infected. If you’re struggling with the itching, this might be a good time to give your fingernails a really good trim – meaning you’re less likely to take skin off if you scratch.

Usually, Midge bites should only cause itching and discomfort for a few weeks – Midge bites are irritating to humans but not dangerous. However, if your symptoms get significantly worse or show signs of severe infection (such as pus at the bite location or generalised symptoms like dizziness, headaches or nausea), you should contact a doctor.

In rare cases, Midge bites can cause an anaphylactic reaction – insect bites are far less likely to cause anaphylaxis than stings are, but it’s not impossible. If someone bitten by midges starts to show signs of anaphylaxis (such as difficulty breathing, swelling in the throat or tongue, or children presenting as pale and limp), you should call 000 immediately.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly what has caused a bite (especially with Midge bites) and whether certain symptoms show that something more serious is going on. If you want to be prepared to help someone with an unidentified bug bite, one of the best ways to prepare is by getting proper first aid training like the First Aid Pro HLTAID014. In addition to giving you a broad grounding in how to respond to different medical emergencies, a certified online first aid training course will run you through the essentials of how to identify different types of serious bites and stings, as well as how to respond to infections and severe anaphylaxis.

How To Prevent Midge Bites

preventing Midge bites

So how can you avoid getting Midge bites to avoid needing to deal with them at all? There’s a few different strategies to limit your chances of midge bites – using a few together can be even more effective.

  • Avoid breeding grounds, particularly at dusk and dawn – Those clouds of Midges swirling together over the water? That means it’s mating time. Do you know when female biting Midges switch from flower nectar to human blood? When they’re mating. There are many, many species of Midge that doesn’t bite humans, so you don’t need to shun every lake at dawn and dusk. But if you know there’s biting Midges around, then that cloud of swirling Midges is not something you want to get near.
  • Use insect repellent – Spray-on insect repellents will make you a lot less attractive to a biting Midge. Just make sure you go for one of the brands that contain the chemical known as “DEET” (diethyl-toluamide), such as Rid or Tropical Strength Aerogard. Normal Aerogard probably won’t cut it.
  • Burn Citronella candles – Midges, like many insects don’t like the smell of Citronella oil – it acts as a natural insect repellent. As such, Citronella candles are a decent deterrent, as long as you’re in an enclosed enough area.
  • Cover up! – Get enough midge bites, and one of those bee-keeper suits might seem like an appealing idea. You probably don’t need to go that far, but closed shoes and long sleeves and pants will limit the places a Midge can bite you.

Why am I suddenly Being Bitten By Midges?

If you’re suddenly experiencing an influx of midgie insect bites, specifically midge bites in QLD, it’s essential to understand the nature of these miggie insects. Midge bites, caused by biting midges, are prevalent in Australia, including regions like Darwin, Brisbane, Victoria, and particularly Queensland. To comprehend why you’re encountering these midgie insect bites, let’s delve into what midges are and how they behave.

Midges, also known as biting midges, are small insects belonging to the midges insect family. They are commonly found in Australia, and their presence can be bothersome due to their bites. These biting midges in Australia resemble gnats and have a distinctive appearance. They are tiny, flying insects with slender bodies and delicate wings.

When it comes to preventing midge bites, it can be challenging, but there are steps you can take to minimise exposure. Avoiding outdoor activities during midge season in Queensland and other affected regions can reduce the risk of being bitten. Wearing long sleeves, long pants, and using insect repellents can act as deterrents. Some people find it helpful to use fine-mesh screens on windows and doors to prevent midges from entering their living spaces.

Seasonal factors: Midge activity can vary throughout the year, with some seasons experiencing higher populations than others. If you’ve noticed a sudden increase in midge bites, it could be due to a peak in their population during their active season.

Environmental changes: Midges are attracted to certain environmental conditions. Factors like humidity, moisture, and stagnant water can create favourable breeding grounds for midges. Changes in weather patterns or nearby bodies of water may contribute to an increase in midge activity and subsequent bites.

Personal attractants: Some individuals are more attractive to midges than others. Factors such as body heat, sweat, body odour, and even certain perfumes or scented products can make you more appealing to midges. If you’ve recently made changes to your personal care routine or are using scented products, it could be a contributing factor.

Location: Certain areas are more prone to midge infestations than others. If you’ve recently moved to a new location or have started spending more time in an area known for midge activity, it’s natural to experience an increase in bites.

Time of day: Midges are typically more active during specific times of the day, such as dawn and dusk. If you’ve recently been outdoors during these peak feeding times, you may have encountered more midges and consequently experienced more bites.

Other factors: It’s worth noting that individual reactions to midge bites can vary. Some people may be more sensitive to their bites or have stronger allergic reactions. Additionally, certain medications or medical conditions can make individuals more attractive to biting insects.

What Is Inside A Midge Bite?

Inside a midge bite, you’ll typically find a combination of saliva and your body’s reaction to it. Midge bites, also known as miggie insect bites, can occur in regions like Queensland (QLD), Australia, where biting midges are prevalent. These tiny insects, often referred to as midges or midgees, belong to the midges insect family. Understanding what is inside a midge bite requires exploring the nature of these biting midges in Australia.

When a miggie insect bites, it injects its saliva into your skin. The saliva contains enzymes and anticoagulants that help facilitate feeding and prevent blood clotting. However, your body recognizes the foreign substances in the saliva and reacts defensively.

Your immune system responds to the midge’s saliva by triggering an inflammatory reaction. This immune response is responsible for the common symptoms associated with midge bites, including redness, swelling, itching, and discomfort. The combination of saliva and the immune response causes the blood vessels near the bite to dilate, leading to increased blood flow, which contributes to the redness and swelling.

Furthermore, the immune cells release histamines and other chemicals, which promote itching and further inflammation in the affected area. This immune reaction and the presence of saliva characterise the contents of a midge bite.

It’s important to note that individual reactions to midge bites can vary. Some people may experience more severe allergic reactions or exhibit stronger responses, resulting in more pronounced symptoms. Additionally, midge bites can become infected, in which case signs of infection, such as pus, increased pain, or warmth, may be present.

To prevent complications from midge bites or potential infections, it’s advisable to take appropriate measures such as avoiding excessive scratching, practising good hygiene, and seeking medical attention if needed.

What’s The Best Treatment For Midge Bites?

When it comes to the best treatment for miggie insect bites, specifically midge bites in QLD, Australia, there are several options to consider. Understanding how to address these miggie insect bites, which are caused by biting midges, is essential. Here are recommended treatments and remedies for midge bites:

Clean the area: After being bitten by midges, it’s important to cleanse the affected area with mild soap and water. This helps to remove any potential irritants and reduce the risk of infection from miggie insect bites.

Cold compress: Applying a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a cloth can provide relief for midge bites. This helps to reduce swelling, itching, and inflammation associated with miggie insect bites. Apply the cold compress for 10-15 minutes at a time, repeating several times a day.

Topical treatments: Using over-the-counter anti-itch creams or ointments, such as those containing hydrocortisone or calamine lotion, can help alleviate itching and soothe the skin affected by midge bites. Follow the instructions on the product label for proper usage.

Oral antihistamines: Taking oral antihistamines, available without a prescription, can help reduce itching and manage allergic reactions caused by midge bites. Follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional if needed.

Pain relievers: Non-prescription pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can provide relief from pain and reduce inflammation associated with midge bites. Follow the instructions on the packaging or consult a healthcare professional for appropriate dosage and usage.

Avoid scratching: It’s crucial to resist the urge to scratch midge bites, as it can worsen the symptoms and increase the risk of infection. Instead, try gently patting or applying pressure to the area to alleviate itching.

Natural remedies: Some individuals find relief from midge bites by using natural remedies such as aloe vera gel, tea tree oil, oatmeal baths, or baking soda paste. These options can help soothe the skin and reduce itching caused by miggie insect bites. However, it’s advisable to do a patch test and discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur.

If midge bites become infected or the symptoms persist and worsen, it’s recommended to seek medical attention for further evaluation and treatment. A healthcare professional can prescribe stronger topical medications or oral antibiotics if necessary.

Prevention is key in managing midge bites. To minimise exposure, consider using insect repellents, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding outdoor activities during peak biting times. Additionally, taking steps to reduce midge populations, such as eliminating standing water sources, can be helpful.

Please note that individual responses to treatments may vary, and it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for personalised advice based on your specific circumstances and the severity of the miggie insect bites.

What Do Midges Do When They Bite You?

When a midge bites, it injects saliva into the skin, leading to an allergic reaction in some individuals.

The content on this website offers general insights regarding health conditions and potential treatments. It is not intended as, and should not be construed as, medical advice. If you are facing a medical emergency, dial 000 immediately and follow the guidance provided.

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