Wednesday 27 June 2018

Midges - dos and don'ts

I'm offering a few words in this post about our teeny flying friends...

Midge Season in the Highlands is usually mid-May to late September. Even in this period – sometimes, there are none at all. Other times, there are zillions.

Highland midges are teeny-weeny flying insects (wingspan >2mm) and can occur in swarms. They are attracted to mammals by the CO2 that we exhale. At their worst, they can get into your eyes, nose, ears and hair. They feed on blood, and a bite on a human can leave a small red spot which is VERY itchy for two or three days. If you are aware you have been bitten, rubbing Anthisan cream into the bitten area as soon as possible will lessen the irritation.

If badly bitten (this is, you have a lot of bites), over-the-counter anti-histamine tablets such as Piriton may help reduce the itching – but these tablets can cause drowsiness or dizziness in some people, so beware if driving.

In midge season…


·         Stay indoors on calm and damp (or humid) mornings and evenings.
·         Keep doors and windows closed. It is better to be a bit warm and stuffy than to invite a swarm of midges into your house…!!!

If you HAVE to go out…

·         Use midge repellent on all exposed skin. I favour ‘Jungle Formula’ which comes as a spray, roll-on or lotion, in ‘normal’ or ‘extra’ strength. The ‘extra’ can sting a bit when applying, but it is VERY effective, and remains so for many hours. I understand a product called ‘Smidge’ is also very effective, but I haven’t used it myself. Some people swear by Avon ‘Skin So Soft’ – I am not convinced!
·         Wear long-sleeved tops and long trousers. Tuck your trousers into your socks and keep your collar buttoned up tight. You won’t look silly – everyone else will look the same… If you are going to be outside for a long time, get yourself a midge hood or midge jacket.
·         Keep moving. Midges have a maximum flying speed of about 2mph, so if you keep walking briskly, they can’t keep up with you!
·         Only go out when there is a breeze. Midges can only fly if the wind speed is under about 5mph, so where there is a breeze, you will not be troubled by midges.
·         Keep a can of fly-spray in the car. After getting into your car on a midgy morning/evening, you may find several hundred of them have come in with you. A few puffs of fly spray will eradicate most of them – and they are so tiny, you will never find the bodies.


·         Sit about outside when there is no breeze, especially under trees or close to bushy vegetation.
·         Wear loose clothing – especially a kilt….!!!
·         Leave the bedroom window open overnight.
·         Even THINK about having a BBQ on that warm, quiet evening…

·         And don’t hate midges – they were on the planet before humans!