Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sand flies are a curse: Phillip Island

My grandfather was a cynic and one of his favourite sayings was, "There's always something to spoil everything". I have to admit there's some truth in my grandfather's quote, especially when it comes to sand flies.

Currently, sand flies (known locally as midges) are a problem on Phillip Island, both for us and the dogs. Yesterday we had to take Major to the vet because of intense itchiness. He was breaking his skin into sores through severe scratching and biting of sand fly bites. Today, after a cortisone injection and a soothing cream, he's much more comfortable. Fortunately Del is not as sensitive to sand fly bites.

We are trying to prevent the dogs lying on grass, because this is where the sand flies live -- as well as in shrubbery. I'm allergic to sand flies too and got bitten last night when I paused to take photos along the bush track. Although I was aware of them swarming around me and I was wearing protective clothing and a hat, still they burrowed into my hair and bit my scalp. Today I have very itchy lumps between my collar and where my hat sits.

Soaking in cold water and standing wet in a breeze are well-known remedies for relieving itchiness. This Major knows, choosing to stand still in the cold water of the bay, as well as retrieve sticks, swim and chase Del through the water.

The salt water also soothes skin abrasions. When dry, the water leaves a residue of salt on the dogs fur and skin which probably deters sand flies; to a degree. All in all, sea swimming is therapeutic as well as great fun.

In my experience, positives always outweigh the negatives. Happiness is a chosen state of mind. I tolerate sand flies because they are part of the coastal ecology in this part of the world. On the other hand though, I don't like them one little bit!

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