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      The Real Story of this Fearsome Beastie – Your Guide to Midges in Scotland

      By Meike van Krimpen
      More by Meike

      Quick-Fire Facts on Midges

      Are midges a blood-sucking pest…

      …that can completely ruin a good day out? Or are Scottish midges a vital part of the eco-system?

      We give you the detail on when they are about, why they bite, how to avoid them and how to stop them biting. And for the mindful and forgiving out there, why they should be celebrated.

      Midges in Scotland

      Image courtesy of APS Biocontrol

      Know Thy Foe

      Scientific Name: Culicoides impunctatus

      How long is the midge life cycle?

      You may have noticed that midges are a definitely a Scottish feature that belongs to the spring and summer seasons. So where are they for the rest of the year? The life cycle of the Scottish midge consists of 4 key stages.

      1. Midges mate and lay eggs in the summer months.
      2. The eggs hatch into larvae and will develop whilst living in the boggy soil.
      3. Before winter they will reach the final instar stage of their larvae development and become a pupa.
      4. The adult midge will emerge from the pupa in spring time.

      To find out more about the midge life cycle click here for a useful guide made by the Scottish Natural Heritage.

      Why do midges bite us?

      Midges don’t bite us just for the hell of it. Out of hundreds of species of midge, only 35 midges actually bite you and they do that because they need to survive. Male midges primarily feed on rotting vegetation and plant nectar. Females will bite you because they need the protein from a blood meal to create their eggs. Interesting fact: male midges aren’t even capable of biting you, as their mouthparts are not strong enough to pierce skin!

      Don’t despair the midges really are not as bad as you think. Read this blog about boosting your happiness.

      Do midges carry diseases?

      Whilst mosquitos are known for being vectors for disease, midges are definitely not. Rest assured, midges do not carry any infectious diseases, so you won’t get anything from being bitten aside from a very itchy bump.

      How can I avoid midges?

      There are some easy ways to avoid getting bitten by midges when you are out and about.

      • Midges don’t like bright sunlight, so are likely to be more active at dawn, dusk and on a cloudy day.
      • Midges are actually too small to fly in winds more than 3mph, so a windy day is a good opportunity for a midge-free day.
      • Get up high. Gaining altitude is also a good way to avoid these beasties as it becomes windier higher up. Nothing like being chased by a swarm of midges to get you up that hill!
      • They also don’t like open water, so sea kayaking is a great option for a midge free times.

      Tips to get the upper hand in the battle against the midges.

      How can I stop midges from biting me?

      We can’t always go out in perfect midge-free conditions so here are some ways you can protect yourself from being bitten.

      1. Repellents

      The two most commonly known midge repellents are Smidge and Avon Skin so Soft. Smidge is a skin-safe insect repellent that protects you from midges, mosquitoes, horse flies, sand flies, fleas and ticks. The fragrance is surprisingly inoffensive and comes in a handy travel sized bottle which you can easily keep handy in pockets.

      Avon Skin So Soft never set out to be a midge repellent but somehow found itself being most famous for that particular characteristic. The theory is that the dry oil forms a barrier on your skin which makes it more difficult for those pesky lady midges to get hold and bite you. Side benefits include moisturising effect and smelling nice. Although Avon Skin so Soft is proven to significantly reduce biting, the midges will still land on you. If you want to really keep them off you and repel them, Smidge would be a safer bet.

      2. Cover up!

      Covering up is a good way to deter midges as their mouthparts are a. not strong enough and b. not long enough to bite through clothing. The go to protective gear is a head net made out of a very fine mesh that midges can’t fly through. Do not use mosquito nets! Midges are so small they will easily fly through a mosquito net.


      Why don’t we do some form of pest control for midges?

      Read our last blog on midges in Scotland for more creative ways to escape midge bites: Midges in Scotland – How to Combat the Mighty Midge

      Concerns have been raised time and time again about the negative impact that midges may have on our tourism and economy. Due to this government-funded investigations have been led into looking into a means of controlling midges.

      However despite the harm they may do to Scotland’s image, they are actually a fundamental part of the ecosystem in the highlands. Midges feature prominently in the food chain. Being part of the diets of other insects and even bats! There are also some carnivorous plants in Scotland that can’t resist a side of midge.

      Learn more about the medicinal properties of Scottish plants.

      Words of Wisdom

      Knowing why midges bite you doesn’t make it any less annoying, but hopefully this has helped you realise that midges are not as omnipresent in the Highlands as people claim they are and that there are some easy ways to avoid them and their bites!

      Meet the Author: Meike van Krimpen

      “Moving to Scotland has shown me how much fun getting out and about is and has made me develop a passion for the outdoors. It’s a privilege to be in a career where I get to breathe, talk and think everything that I love about Scotland and to be a part of a team that enables amazing adventure holidays in a country that so many wrongly perceive as dark and gloomy.”

      View profileMore by Meike

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