04/09/2013 - 22:33

We will be back in Umbria in June and I was wondering if anyone had any success with keeping the pappataci at bay. Two years ago, our first year in our hilltop home, I was eaten alive by what the paesani call pappataci ( I believe they are midges or sand flies in English) I had more than 160 bites on my upper torso. It was complete misery, actually traumatic.This year I had screens put on every window and door and I had those little spheres plugged into the outlets as soon as the sun went down. I also purchased a mosquito net but didn't find that I needed it. I managed to keep them out of the house.My problem now is when I am outside. I tried Deep Wood Off (30% Deet) and I tried some of the sprays that I picked-up in the pharmacies in Italy. I got the bites down to about 50 but that is still enough to keep me from wanting to venture outside. I am always a magnet for biting insects but these pappataci seem to have a particular taste for sangue Italo-Canadese. Does anyone have any advice?



Can't advise on prevention but you can get relief from the bites if you hit them with a piezo zapper as they occur. Amazon do them for very little money and they are really effective.

Thanks all for your advice!  I will look for midge repellent.  I had never heard of midges before having seen them in Italy.  I probably was bitten by them in the Caribbean but never knew what they were.  I guess our Canadian repellants work well enough on Canadian bugs but not so well on their Italian relatives.

... Tiger mozzies are out all day and every day, seen them here in Jan (ok not as bad as summer, but). Main fact is they are not bothered about sunshine move ever so fast, so you need protection on all the time not just after sundown. Not found anything that totally stops them, but a lot of products do cut down the number of bites. Boots own suncream/aftersun with mozzie protection I seem to recall was good, if they still do it? Now I simply cover up with light clothing, however my OH has been bitten a number of times through walking tops....

Marmite does it for me,  - On Regent street last Xmas with the marmite Xmas lights, there wasnt a midge to be seen!   For mozzies I use Off! and that works a treat too.

In reply to by Ram

I don't get the Marmite thing, why would that work?  I am assuming that you eat it and not rub it all over,haha.  Now I have to find Marmite in Montreal.  I know if I ask around I am going to end-up with a huge pot, not spread (living in French Canada a marmite is a pot).  I remember a friend was asking me about where she could find some for some Australian friends that were visiting and wanted it for breakfast.  She eventually found it , I just have to find out where.  Thanks for the advice, just thinking about those 160 bites all over my arms brings on a panic attack!

If the locals call them pappataci, beware! They are like midges because they're tiny and fly silently, but their bites can cause fever, fatigue, headaches and muscular pain. A doctor friend said their bites can be really nasty. Personally, I react badly if bitten by anything (including your common old UK ant!) and the best thing I've found in Italy is Autan stick - which seems to be popular because it's OK for children. I confess to stockpiling and I put it on all the time when it gets warm enough to be aware of them, and at dusk from about now onwards. I also have plug in machines all over the house. Plus After-Bite (or just plain ammonia) and antihistamines if I do get bitten. I hope you don't have as bad a summer as the one you described. It must have been awful.

Oh they are pappataci alright!  I actually went from the airport to the medical clinic upon my return.  I just couldn't believe that I could have been bitten so many times without seeing, hearing or feeling anything ....until the itching and burning started.  After several medical investigations it was confirmed that they were insect bites and I  was having an allergic reaction to them.  It seems like I am fine until the humid weather starts in mid June, after that I am pappataci meat.  I also have to confess to stockpiling an arsenal of products but so far none have been 100% effective.  I tried Autan and unfortunately it didn't work all that well. I am not a country girl (mostly because I hate bugs and I have such a bad reaction to bites) but I love my Italian home so much that I won't let the bugs keep me away.  I am going to find a way to win this war! 

Ive never heard of these things - sounds like you could do with some bat boxes or investigate if it has a natural enemy.  On a different track, a friend of mine found that she was always bitten much worse when she was menstruating - so you could be looking at drastic remedies!   You will need to eat alot of marmite - which is fine for marmite babies - so your sweat has a marmite tang.  I got bitten much less when I was Vegetarian - so its all to do with being appealing to the little buggers for some reason.  now I eat some meat, I obviously pong right. 

Sandflies and midges are a real pain. Not surprising that one of its species is called "Culiocoides Molestus", a real nuissance. Also, there is a pappatataci fever, which they transmit. So it is a real problem. Many years ago, I lived in Byron Bay (Australia) and some areas suffered a lot from these little monsters. I remembered that the local Council used to issue instructions about how to deal with them and I found this most useful piece of information: There used to be a local remedy made by mixing baby oil with tea tree oil (available from health food shops) and it was quite effective. I also found this article that mentions some of those remedies: Also, people with O type blood group seem to be more affected than others. Vitamin B1 is also useful to prevent attacks. Look at the instructions in the Byron Shire sheet. And follow their advice regarding what to do. They are all very effective. In any case, I would advise you to have with you some prescription medication containing antihistamines in case you get seriously attacked. Do not take it on a regular basis, simply as needed if you find yourself in a difficult situations. Ask your doctor to explain. Best wishes.       

I'm O- so I guess it is not only the blood bank that loves my universal blood type! I had a few different brands of antihistimine that I had brought with me last year, along with some topical steroid cream and it helped but I am trying to avoid getting bit.  I teach in the medical field so I have access to all types of medical advice but I think it's extermination advice that I need, lol.  I will check the medical literature to see if I can find any studies on B1  being used successfully to repel the little buggers but I have to say that I am willing to give it a try on the anecdotal evidence alone! Thanks for your help and I will check the links you posted.

I am a bug magnet, regardless what I eat, and I get very bad allergic reactions from the tiger moth. At one time I got a blod infection from some kind of insect bite, and went to the pronto soccorso. The doctor who examined me and gave me all kinds of penicillin for the infection also told me that I should take one antihistamine a day as a prevention. It works very well for me, and I am also not as sensitive to the bites today, as I was the first year we had our house in Italy. I also use after bite and cortison if it swells up.

I get bitten just as badly as you - a real misery - the bites swell to the size of eggs almost and ooze plasma and one year it was so bad that I just flew back to the UK as I simply could not take another bite. Then I discovered a product by Avon called Skin-So-Soft.  I didn't believe it would work, but it did - not a single bite and as proof that it works (for me) if I should forget to use it I get bitten many many times within hours. If you are willing to try it, make sure you get the OIL and not the cream.  It is available online.  Use liberally and make sure you cover every inch of your skin - don't think the little buggers cant bite through clothing - 'cus they can.  After a few days you wont have to use quite so much of the oil as the residue seems to build up a little - it seems to remain even after showering.  Good luck.

Abolutely right Esme - Skin so Soft works a treat, goodness knows why, but it definitely does. They say the Marines use it when training on the west coast of Scotland as it was the only thing that kept the midges away from them - nothing else worked. Definitly worth a try.

Like Esme I used to get eaten alive.  I used to be covered in massive lumps that would be bright red/rock hard and boiling - and of course really itchy.  I started using the Avon skin so soft following an article my husband read re the forces using it - I was a little sceptical at first but have been wowed.  I only get bitten if I miss a bit - even so far as if you wear a long dress still cover yourself from head to toe as the little buggers will find the one part oyu haven't covered.  And a real bonus it's really cheap - around 2.99 a bottle.  But it's the dry oil you need - not the shower gel/moisturiser - and Avon (as I understand) now deliver to Italy - you just order it on line. It has made a MASSIVE difference to me - I can go out at night/sit at BBQ's and if I get 1 bite a week I'm unlucky - as opposed to the 20/30 I'd get a night.  The best summer purchase ever I also use something that you burn outside - it's like a coil that slowly burns down and releases a vapour - a volcano or something.  Plus where we rent I use plug ins - just ordering our windows for our restoration and getting built in mosquito blinds too :)  As many forms of defence I say....

I live in Montreal, Canada so there is no problem getting the Skin So Soft from Avon.  For now our house in Umbria is just a vacation home that we get to three times a year, with the month in the summer being the most difficult for me.  Hopefully this year I will be able to enjoy all the happenings that go on when the sun goes down.  After my first nightmare of a summer, I had screens installed on all the windows and globes plugged into every outlet with a stockpile of the little RAID tablets.  I'll try the Skin So Soft and hopefully the little monsters will leave me alone. Thanks you!

I take vitamin B compound otherwise the pesky things have me for dinner.  Apparantly after taking it for a couple of weeks  it gives off an odour through your sweat that the flies don't like.  Thankfully humans can't smell it! 

... does not work for everyone. I suspect it's one of those combination things where the type of skin/body you have makes the difference. Certainly if I were like you getting so many bites, I would try it, just when we did it made little or no difference, so don't build up your hopes too much... Fortunately we don't get more than one or two bites now and then and that is invariably when we've been working in the garden. Never see or hear more than 1 or 2 per year actually in the house as we use mozzie window shutters and the plug in tablets. Yes we do eat a lot of marmite (the only thing we would miss from the UK), but hold little or no store in that, except it is laced with a number of "B" vitamins. We also eat copious amounts of garlic, so it could be a combination that cuts down the bites... 

You said in your original posting;- "..........I tried Deep Wood Off (30% Deet) and I tried some of the sprays that I picked-up in ..........Italy. I got the bites down to about 50 .........." The concentration of Deet is critical to its effectiveness.  We use "Jungle Juice' spray which we get in the UK.  It is 50% Deet, and most effective for us see

Which one Ram?  Skin so soft or deet? I can only speak for skin so soft as it's the only thing that's worked for me - I think skin so soft not working is by excpetion with Steve being one of them.  Only the dry oil works - it's not marketed as a repellant as Avon is not a drugs manufacturer.  If you go on their website you can read hundreds of reviews.  Always worth a try as it's so cheap :) As I understand it - you need to be careful who you use deet products on as it contains lots of strong chemicals and isn't suited for young children

On the Avon uk site there are 47 skin so soft products - with all types of oil - I reckong this is it? but then there is skin so soft bug guard spray, and all sorts - could an expert in the field point us newbies in the right direction, or become an Avon rep in Italy? You'd make a fortune! 

That's THE one - and buy it straight from the Avon shop as per Esmes link -  I think there may be other "similair products" being marketed that just aren't the same.  I have about 20 bottles in my bathroom just in case they ever stop making it!!!! 

Deet based all the time, Skin so Soft did nothing to help me, and in the warmer months Deet goes on in the morning with a top-up in the evening, or after showers, plus plug ins in the house, eek had forgotten the downside to life in Italy!. Interesting though re blood types, another O here.

Best of luck, can only suggest what has already been mentioned here. If the little blighters are pale or transparent they sound more like sand flies rather than midges which, at least in the UK, are black. Sand flies can carry disease so take precautions and stuff to put on after. Good luck!

I'm fortunate in that although midges (in whatever bit of Europe) do seem to find me very attractive, I don't react badly. Oddly enough I have found that a loose shirt is much better than anything tucked into my jeans to avoid these pests nibbling the back of my waistband! I think there is some very good advice in this thread - and I would go along with Ram's opinion about plug in mossie deterrents. I would never use one of these in a room without the window wide open - but if the plug-in is below the window (and you can't smell it) I think they are effective and not toxic. (Coughs, I could be wrong!)

We are walking distance to the Marmore falls.  I am afraid that you will have to prepare for WAR!  This soldier is going in again in June (they seem to start around mid June when the hot humid weather begins)with an arsenal of products so I'll let you know what works.  The first summer for me was absolute misery so I hope I can spare your wife what I went through.

Both Marmite (British) and Vegemite (Australian) spreads are yeast extracts which contain good doses of Vitamin B, including Thiamin or 1, the one that seems to have an effect on the little monsters. If you are already taking the supplement, you should be right.