Beat the bites: Surviving sandfly season

Sandflies are everywhere this summer, and with the continuing heat, you can expect they'll linger for a bit longer. Kerikeri-based sandfly expert Becky Cashman, producer of natural bug repellent Goodbye Sandfly, says the best defence against sandflies is to cover up with light-coloured clothing.

“Sandflies are attracted to dark clothes so if you’re wearing light colours, stand next to a person in a black fleece jersey and you will get instant relief! "If you keep covered up and give your skin a dose of bug repellent, you have a much better chance of surviving a sandfly party."

The single best thing you can do for managing sandflies – and mosquitoes – is to dress for the occasion. Forget the backless, strapless summer frock. Trousers are the new mini skirt in sandfly country.

Becky’s top tips for surviving the onslaught of sandflies this summer are:
1. Protect your ankles with socks or bug repellent. Sandflies tend to start their attack at the ground level and work upward.
2. Wear light-coloured clothes. Sandflies are attracted to dark clothes. If you wear dark trousers and a light coloured top, the sandflies will hang out around the ground and not around your face and arms.
3. Sandflies love feet the most – so forget the jandals and cover up.
4. Walk. Sandflies are very slow creatures. As long as you are moving they can't swarm.
5. Keep a sarong in your bag if you’re caught short, for the emergency cover up.
6. Keep your car, caravan, and boat closed up or screened. Sandflies are notorious for their ability to find openings to enter and fly in wait. If you have no screens, keep downwind windows and doors closed. They don’t like wind.
7. Sandflies are attracted to heat. Turn off needless lights during dusk.
8. Avoid using ‘sweet’ smelling body care products. Eat less sugar. Sandflies love sweet people.
9. Sandflies will go into a feeding frenzy just before it begins to rain. They can be your little weatherwomen (it's the females that bite), so put on your rain jacket.
10. Try not to scratch!

If you’re heading outdoors this summer, check out the sandfly map at goodbyesandfly.co.nz for up-to-date information on where those little critters are lurking, and be prepared!

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