Friday, 23 May 2008

The battle against midges and Avon Skin So Soft

Read any article about midges and Avon Skin So Soft is often mentioned in the same sentence. But does it work? Well, I think so. Here is a summary of an entertaining article courtesy of

"Avon's spray finds calling as midge repellent for Royal Marines, by Arthur MacMillan

They are famed for their ability to operate at sea, in the jungle or in the Arctic wastes of Norway. Battles throughout the centuries have won the Royal Marine Commandos a reputation as one of the world's elite fighting forces. But on the home front, our toughest soldiers are prepared to pander to their softer side to combat Scotland's most persistent foe: the midge. For years the Marines at Faslane who guard nuclear missiles and the submarines capable of firing them have looked for an answer. They've finally found it in a brand of women's skin cream.

Instead of using mosquito repellent, soldiers are buying Avon body lotion to repel midges on the West Coast. The company traditionally associated women selling cosmetics door-to-door is experiencing an unexpected boom thanks to the pesky insect. A Royal Navy spokesman at HMS Clyde said: "It's not official kit but nothing works better and the Marines are buying it themselves because the midges are so bad up there." The wonder cure is a £5 bottle of dry oil body spray from Avon's Skin So Soft range. The midge problem at the base where Trident missiles and Vanguard submarines are stationed is so bad it recently installed a MidgeEater machine at the front gate and workers at the camp can be seen wearing midge nets on their heads.

A stores sergeant said: "There is nothing effeminate about it. The reason the Nods [Marines] are using it is because it is good kit. It works. It's as simple as that." It is thought that the oily base of the body spray is the ingredient that repels midges. Made with shea butter and vitamins, Avon's packaging boasts that it will "ensure your skin feels velvety soft, hour after hour".

Sales of the spray have gone through the roof with some Avon ladies selling hundreds of bottles. Avon's area manager said word of the body spray's ability to repel midges had spread since the wives of servicemen discovered its hidden qualities. She added "We sell it as a body moisturiser but many people tell us they are only buying it to get rid of midges. We don't market it as an insect repellent because its primary use is to soften your skin. But it is undoubtedly one of our best sellers, with our best agents having to order up to 200 bottles every three weeks."

Word of the spray's ability to fight midges has now spread throughout the entire West Coast, with sales being picked up in Dumbarton, Campbeltown, Oban and Dunoon. It has also been claimed that both the US army and the SAS use it as mosquito repellent in the jungle.

Scottish Water engineers in the Highlands and forestry workers are also placing orders. In recent years a more terminal approach to tackling midges has been the MidgeEater range of traps, which generate carbon dioxide to mimic the exhaled breath of humans which are the midge's favoured haunt. Once fooled into coming within range, the hapless insects are then sucked into the trap at high speed.

There are more than 30 species of midge in Scotland but it is the female Culicoides impunctatus variety that causes torment. It is the only type of midge that bites. The crew responsible for the final episodes of Monarch of the Glen set at Ardverikie estate, near Loch Laggan, wore anti-midge body suits and veiled headgear while filming".

AvailablePitch Footnote: Avon Skin So Soft Dry Oil Spray comes in 3 fragrances in blue, yellow and pink bottles, and it’s the blue bottle which is effective against the midges – “Soft and Fresh”. Midges still land on you, but don’t like and/or drown in the oil! Used dilligently, it does work, but you need to spray yourself regularly to keep it effective.
No need to find yourself an Avon Lady -Avon Skin So Soft can be ordered online from the Avon Shop.

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Saturday, 10 May 2008

Midges in Scotland

The threat of midges made us think very hard about island hopping in our motorhome in Scotland, but luckily, it did not put us off and as earlier blogs tell, we had an amazing holiday. We were relatively fortunate where the little blighters were concerned, however, because we went in early September, and not in the peak midge season which is June - August. Tiny as they are, midges DO bite, and leave a nasty itchy scab, which takes time to heal. Now the male half of AvailablePitch has buffalo hide, through which nothing penetrates, however, I am not so lucky and clearly have an invisible notice on my body which says “all flying insects please feel free to bite any time, any place, anywhere”.

In theory, campsites by the sea should suffer less. In reality, whilst they are less bothered than non-coastal sites, there will still be a few midges around. However, we found it tolerable, and there are things you can do which DO help. The day time was fine, the problem came early evening – 5-ish onwards. If the weather was fine and we wanted to sit out in an evening, we pulled the motorhome’s awning out, and lit several sticks of incense both citronella and lavender
which was extremely effective. The smoke and fragrance from the incense was held under the awning, and we were able to sit out trouble free. The campfire also helped alot, however, you do end up smelling of wood smoke!

The other thing you can do is to use Avon Skin-So-Soft Dry Oil spray (blue bottle), which, whilst not being designed as an insect repellent, if used dilligently, seems to help. More about this in a later blog.

In summary, pick your time of year, go prepared, and don't let the possibility of midges put you off.

Picture above - Sunset, motorhome with awning out, campfire burning, 6 pm-ish, Muasdale Touring Park, Kintyre.