Sandflies, midges, tiny flying pests spawned from the devil, whatever you call them, they are a real hell this spring in Hong Kong. The little bastards like hot, humid weather and their numbers seem double that of previous years. They are silent (unlike mosquitoes). They are clever (they always head for elbows and ankles). If you stand still on a hot, humid afternoon, near greenery, you can easily acquire 25 bites in 5 minutes.
Here are the only ways to defeat the dreaded things:
1. Apply a thick coat of creme-type lotion. They do not like to bite through it. Warning: if you apply it too thick you risk becoming human fly paper.
2. Spray a high factor DEET repellant all over your body. Reapply constantly.
3. Cover all exposed skin with clothing or netting. A man fishing in Tai Po last week had the right idea: he wore trousers, long sleeves and a net-draped pith helmet. Prepare to sweat away your will to live.
4. Remain entirely indoors.
5. Go swimming, keeping only your head above water. Stay in the middle of the pool.
6. Befriend someone that the flies prefer to bite over you. Go everywhere with that person.
7. Never stop moving. Run, dance, skip, fidget or practice high-speed Tai Chi. Absolutely never sit down or stop walking if you are outside.
8. Move to a concrete jungle section of Hong Kong and keep 100 meters away from any greenery. Only mildly effective.
9. Pray for windy days.
10. Give up. Go about your summer activities as normal. Use every ounce of your inner strength to not mind that the bites itch like hell. I hear that after a decade of exposure one acquires an immunity to them.