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A Guide To Midges in Scotland

Written by: Doug
Published: 19th April 2019, last updated: 27th June 2022

The Scottish Midges often loom like a cloud over the idea of a pleasant camping holiday or walk in the countryside. They have ruined many a time in the great outdoors and some have been known to reduce grown men and women to tears. They also cause problems for outdoors industries in Scotland, reducing productivity and menacing those who make their living working outside.

Without the midge, Scotland would not be the same. Midges are one of the reasons for the relatively low population of the Scottish Highlands and help keep the wildernesses wild. They help to keep large areas free of human interference than they may otherwise have been. What is more, they are a food source for a number of important wild creatures, such as bats.

In order to understand these oft-dreaded little creatures a little better, let’s take a look at them in a little more depth.

01. What Are Midges?

A swarm of midges.
Midges in Scotland are a type of tiny insect of the order Diptera and the suborder Nematocera.  Midges are found in practically every environment on earth, except the permanent cold deserts of the poles and the permanent hot deserts of arid zones.

The Scottish midge belongs to a family of midges known as Ceratopogonidae – biting midges. Other members of this family are known as ‘no see ums’ in North America, and have been implicated as vectors for the spread of disease-causing pathogens in the tropics and elsewhere in the world.

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02. How Long Do Midges Live?

A swarm of midges
Midges mate and lay eggs during the summer months each year. The eggs are laid in boggy ground or ground vegetation and hatch into larvae. Egg hatch takes less than 24 hours.

This stage of the life cycle is followed by four larval stages. During larval stages, these creatures live as omnivores/ detritivores in the water films of the surface layers of the soil. The final larval stage then overwinters.

In late spring or early summer, (as day length and temperature increase) there is then a short pupal stage which takes 1-2 days. After this stage, the adult midge will emerge.

Non-biting males will sometimes emerge before the biting females. Sometimes, bivoltinism (a second generation within the midge season), and sometimes even a third generation, takes place. In this case, the generation period is recognised as around 6 weeks.

During the summer mating season, males will find a female with whom to mate and will then die off. The females will lay their first lot of eggs without needing a blood meal. They can then lay up to three further batches of eggs, depending on the weather and their survival, over the summer months, requiring a blood meal for each subsequent batch, before dying off as autumn weather arrives.

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03. Midge Bites

Midge bite on a woman's leg and feet
As mentioned above, female culcoides impunctatus need an abdomen full of blood in order to lay their eggs and perpetuate the species. It is the fact that they bite humans that has given these midges their fearsome reputation.

The female midge’s mouth parts – fine toothed mandibles and maxillae, work like two saws, cutting through the skin. The midge then excretes saliva into the wound, which keeps the blood from coagulating, creating a pool of blood upon which to feed.

It is the physical way in which a midge bites that accounts for the notorious pain we experience when bitten by them. If left undisturbed, a female midge will remain there, feeding, for 3-4 minutes, taking an average of 2 µl of blood.

When we (or another mammal) are bitten by a midge, the body responds by releasing histamine at the site of the wound. This results in the characteristic itching and swelling of the bite. Some people will have a stronger immune response and will get big red lumps at the site of bites, while other people will see only a small red mark at the bite site.

Why Do Some People Get More Midge Bites than Others?

Those who have spent much time in the Scottish Highlands will already know that some people are more ‘attractive’ to midges than others. Some people can spend time around midges and get few bites, or none at all, while other people can be covered the second they step outside.

scottish midge bites Scottish Midge Bites. Photo by LHOON / CC BY-SA 2.0

Lots of theories, from diet to body type, to being a smoker or non-smoker, have been put forward to explain this phenomenon. In recent years, however, scientists have examined those who midges seem to avoid to see what they have that the rest of us do not.

It seems that it is a specific chemical hidden in body odour that midges seem to hate. This chemical has been identified as ketone. Some people have lots of this natural midge repellent, while others do not. This is believed to be hereditary, and scientists are working on isolating the gene. One day, this may lead to a pill which can turn everyone into a natural midge repeller.

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04. Midge Habitat

Macro of a Midge Pollinating a Wildflower
Culcoides impunctatus in Scotland are found in highest numbers in the Western Highlands. It is here that the ideal midge habitats are found. However, in smaller numbers, midges can be found across most of the country where areas of damp soil for breeding can be found.

Midges prefer to lay their eggs in damp, boggy ground, and acidic peat soils in particular. This is why they are found in the Western Highlands in such high numbers. Female midges tend to bite in close proximity to their breeding site, though they have been found as far as 1km away.

While midges get human blood when they can, the majority of the blood they feed on comes from cattle, sheep and deer, so they can often be found in largest number close to locations where such creatures can be found.

Midges are worse in sheltered glens than they are on peaks or exposed locations. Midges are far less common at elevations over 500m.  Sheltered locations with high rainfall and high humidity tend to be where you will find the highest concentrations of biting midges.

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05. Midge Activity & Seasonality

A swarm of midges
While biting midges are abroad in Scotland between May and September, with some outliers hitting the skies in April and October, July and August are generally considered to be the time when midges in Scotland are at their worst, in the average year.

When Are Midges Worst in Scotland (The Best Time to Avoid Them!)

Astoundingly, during the height of summer, when midges are at their worst, these tiny creatures can be a true impediment to forestry, agriculture, and for all those spending time working outdoors.

The Forestry Authority has estimated that of the 65 working days each summer, as much as 20% can be lost due to midge attacks preventing workers from doing their jobs. The impact of midges on the tourist industry in financial terms is unknown, but it is clear that during peak season, midges do have an important role to play in driving people away from many of Scotland’s wild and beautiful locations. It is estimated that the Scottish tourist industry loses around £268 million each year because holidaymakers stay away during midge season. (Bad news for some, but good news, perhaps, for those who enjoy spending time in nature undisturbed by tourist hoards.)

The times to avoid (when midges are at their worst) can also depend on the weather conditions in a given year. A warm, damp spring can often see midge numbers rocket. Midges are also worse throughout the spring, summer and early autumn when the weather is humid and still. If summer is warm and wet, midges can still be bad later in the summer and into the early autumn, as subsequent generations arise. A late approach of autumn with warm, wet conditions into September can also prolong the midge season.

Interestingly, a harsh, cold winter has little or no effect on midge numbers the following season. In fact, when Scotland had a particularly cold and severe winter in 2010, scientists found that the following summer was actually a bumper year for midges. Midges in the larval stage remained safe below the ground, but the cold weather killed off more of the midge’s natural predators such as bats and birds, and so midge numbers were higher.

You are far less likely to encounter severe midge problems if visiting Scotland when the weather is cloudless and dry. When the sun’s penetration through cloud drops below 260 W/m2, midges come out to play and when it drops below 130 W/m2, midges can reach problem levels.

Higher winds (midges cannot fly in winds over 7mph) can also help to keep midges at bay. A hot, dry June or early July can reduce the likelihood of subsequent midge generations.

If you are planning a camping holiday, or planning to otherwise spend time outdoors in Scotland’s midgier areas during the summer months, checking the weather forecast for the area you are visiting should help you to determine how bad the midges are likely to be.

What Time of Day are Midges Most Active?

Another thing to bear in mind if you are visiting an area where you expect to encounter midges is that they are at their most active in the early morning, just before dawn, and in the evening, as light levels begin to fall. While midges do bite at any time of the day, you are less likely to be bitten if you avoid spending time outdoors at the beginning and end of the day.

The Midge Forecast

Visitors coming to Scotland during the summer months can also check the midge forecast, which will tell you how severe midges are likely to be on a given day in a particular location.

The Scottish Midge Forecast is created using data collected from biting midge traps and mini-weather stations across the country. The data collected is extended nationally using weather forecast data to give a big picture view of midge levels throughout the season.

On the midge forecast, on a map of Scotland, you will see coloured circles with numbers 1-5. These tell you what level midges are at in each part of the country. A level one means – ‘No flies on me’ – few midges, if any, will be detected. A level two means that a location is ‘mostly midge free’.

A level three, and midges can be bad enough that it is a good idea to take measures to ‘make yourself repellent’ or cover-up, at a level four ‘That’s not mist, that’s midges!’ and at level five – midges are pretty much as bad as they get. If you’ve not experienced it – you don’t want to know!

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06. How To Get Rid of Midges

Midge repellent on grass
The question of how to get rid of midges is one on which scientists have been working hard. The answer depends in part on whether we are looking at the big picture, at the problem of midges in Scotland as a whole, or at the micro-level – how to get rid of midges (at least temporarily) on a small scale.

The question is a complex one, but one to which everyone who knows anything about outdoors life in Scotland thinks that they have the answer.

Keeping Midges Away

When looking at the big picture, the big question often debated is whether or not steps should be taken to eradicate the Highland biting midge from certain areas (or even from the whole of the country).

The arguments for eradicating (or severely controlling) the Scottish biting midge are many and varied. Academics working on the problem argue that midges are costly for the Scottish economy. As mentioned above, they are problematic for productivity levels in outdoors industry (not to mention extremely unpleasant for the workers involved) and cost the tourism industry a huge amount each year.

What is more, while midges do not carry diseases fatal to humans, the same cannot be said for animals. Midges do carry some major livestock pathogens. For example, midges can carry the blue tongue virus, which kills sheep. While this virus has not yet appeared in the UK, it could happen – especially as global warming continues and midges surviving over winter may increase the potential for them to harbour disease.

However, scientists are mostly of the belief that this is unlikely to become a problem within our lifetimes. What is more, from an ecological standpoint, sheep and red deer (another food source for midges) do a lot more damage, due to a lack of predators and unsustainable land management, than the midges do.

Keeping midges away

Another argument used in favour of widespread midge control (if not outright eradication) is that, while they do play a role in the food chain – eaten by a range of bats and birds and other creatures – those creatures would, if midges were gone, just eat something else.

Existing prey data on bats and birds suggest that controlling (potentially reducing) midge numbers in Scotland would have minimal impact on predatory species. It is believed that midge control only results in a small shift in prey selection in areas of significant midge reduction. The pipistrelle, for example, the most common bat species in Scotland, is known to feed unselectively on whatever insects are available. The same is believed to be true of warblers and other passerines. The impact of the removal of midge larvae from soil ecosystems is also believed to be relatively small since they constitute only a very small proportion of the total soil fauna.

Setting aside the bigger picture for the moment, many ways to get rid of midges focus on keeping midges away from individuals, rather than removing them from an environment altogether. Methods for avoiding midge bites usually fall into two main areas: coverage (to prevent midges from reaching your skin) and repellents (which reduce midge’s attraction to an individual).

Midge Traps

While total midge eradication is not really currently on the table, major forms of midge control are in use around the country.

Currently, midge traps are the most effective and widely used form of midge control. Midge traps are used in problem midge areas to capture midges and reduce midge numbers considerably. They are used in gardens, campsites and in other locations where midge numbers are problematic for humans living or working in the vicinity.

Midge trap, Clatteringshaws Midge Trap. Photo by Jim Barton / CC BY-SA 2.0

Midge traps work by mimicking a human or other large mammal. They attract midges with a range of different mechanisms, including the release of CO2, moisture and heat, the mimicry of body skin temperature, the use of a rapid action attractant that mimics sweat, and movement mimicked by, for example, a blinking LED light, a water trap, and light.

Once midges are drawn into a midge trap, they are usually drawn into a vessel by a strong vacuum fan. A sticky glue trap with a contrasting pattern is sometimes also used to trap the insects.

While some may object to the idea of killing so many living creatures, midge traps of this kind have been shown to make life more bearable for many who spend time around midges in the great outdoors, and can significantly reduce midge numbers (and therefore midge bites) over smaller areas.

Attracting bats and birds that eat midges is an ecologically friendly way to keep midge numbers down – but the midges they eat are still only a drop in the ocean.

Midge Nets and Coverage

The most effective way of keeping midges off is to employ a technique of total coverage. In a severely midge infested area, clouds of the insects can make it difficult to see, regardless of whether or not you actually get bitten!

Man wearing a midge net protecting his head

You can wear long sleeves and tuck your trousers into your socks, of course, in order to protect your arms and legs. You may also wear gloves to protect your hands. For the face and neck, some visitors to such areas choose to invest in a midge net, which is a mesh hood worn over the head.

This will prevent midges from reaching your skin – as long as you make sure there are no points for them to enter.

Midge Repellents

In addition to covering up, many entering areas where there are midges often also choose to use some form of repellent. There are a number of different repellents that have varying degrees of efficacy when it comes to getting rid of midges and making sure that they do not bite.

DEET Insect Repellents

DEET, a chemical formula of diethyltoluamide, is the active ingredient in many insect repellents. Such repellents do provide a degree of protection against midges and other biting insects. However, though insect repellents containing DEET do not pose a significant danger to human health or the environment, some people can experience negative skin reactions when using such products.

Smidge Insect Repellents

One insect repellent that does not contain DEET and which is found for sale all over the Highlands is Smidge, and many locals will swear by it. The active ingredient in this popular repellent has been designed to effectively block the antennal receptors of biting insects – thereby throwing midges off your scent. It also stops you from tasting so good to the midges.

Natural Insect Repellents

Smearing citronella on any exposed areas of skin will get rid of midges from your immediate vicinity (at least short term), and burning citronella candles on a campsite can also keep them away from your tent (at least to a degree).

Any smoke from a campfire can also keep midges at bay – at least up to a point. Lighting a good bonfire can certainly keep midges away a little – but in order to avoid midges landing on and biting you, you may have to sit right in the path of the smoke.

Camp fire

Scientists are currently also working on creating a midge repellent using the plant bog myrtle, and it is believed that bog myrtle may be one of the most effective natural midge repellents. Bog myrtle’s citrus smell may mean that it works in a similar way to citronella.

Some say that taking garlic capsules can help reduce your attractiveness to midges, while others swear that taking vitamin B capsules (or eating lots or Marmite) do the trick. The efficacy of such folk remedies, however, is unproven, and their reported success rates seem to vary considerably – depending on who you talk to.

Avon Skin So Soft – Does It Work?

Another often discussed remedy to keep midges from biting is Avon Skin So Soft Dry Oil Body Spray. While not sold as an insect repellent, it does seem to work to prevent, or at least reduce, midge bites – at least for a while. Legend has it that when training in the Highlands, Marines and other members of the armed forces slather it on to avoid being bitten.

The oil may simply work initially due to the fact that is has a strong smell (and covers your skin) so that you are somewhat more difficult for midges to detect and find, and don’t taste as good when they do. Some say that it is the citronella in the product which does seem to be somewhat repellent to midges.

However, from personal experience (I am definitely someone attractive to midges!) the repellent effect seems to wear off very quickly, and it is, in any case, not entirely effective. Unless you are prepared to slather on amusingly large amounts, and reapply every ten to fifteen minutes or so to renew the effect, then this is only ever going to be a partial solution to the biting midge problem.

Vintage Avon Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil Vintage Avon Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil. Photo by Joe Haupt/ CC BY-SA 2.0

It is also worthwhile noting that while Avon Skin So Soft (and citronella essential oil) will prevent midges from landing on and biting you for a while, if you are in an area where it is particularly high in midges, they will still be all around you.

They can be infuriating – to say the least. A midge net in addition to the repellent you choose will stop them from flying into your eyes, up your nose, or into your mouth. If you have never been in bad midges, you really cannot imagine how bad it can be!

The best way to think about things, when visiting the areas of Scotland with a high midge density is that it is usually better to try to stay away from them, rather than trying to keep them away from you. Find breezes, head for higher ground, or simply find somewhere indoors until the problem lessens.

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07. Biology

Up close shot of midge
The Highland biting midge has a wingspan of just 1.4mm and weighs just an 8000th of a gram each. With the aid of a microscope, the biting midge Culicoides impunctatus can be distinguished from the non-biting Chironomidae by:

  • The presence of female biting mouth-parts (it is only the female of the species that bites)
  • Short fore legs
  • Characteristic dark markings on the membranous wings which are folded, like scissors, when the insects are at rest or feeding

The wings of a midge beat faster than any other wings in the animal kingdom – 1000 times per second.

With an abdomen full of blood (from biting humans or animals), a single female midge can produce up to 200 eggs. In optimal conditions, with the right type of soil, around half a million midges can hatch from just one two square metre patch of ground. 25% of Scotland’s land area is perfect midge territory and there can be as many as 180,750 trillion midges in Scotland during the peak of the midge season.

Culicoides Impunctatus

The Scottish biting midge is of the genus Culicoides and its species name is Culicoides impunctatus. In Gaelic, they are known as ‘meanbh-chuileag’, which means ‘tiny fly’. Members of the genus are found on every continent except Antarctica, and at elevations of up to 4,250m on Mount Everest.

This particular species is prevalent in the Scottish Highlands but can also be found throughout the British Isles, across Scandinavia, other regions of Europe, in Russia and in Northern China. However, due to the challenges in positively identifying this species, is actual distribution is still unclear.

Culicoides impunctatus is just one of 37 different species of Culicoides midges that have been recorded in Scotland, and yet it is responsible for 70-95% of all the bites on human beings that occur throughout the country. Of course, as well as biting humans, they also play a crucial and pivotal role in Scotland’s ecosystems. There is also a wide range of non-biting midges throughout the country, which also play their roles without posing a problem for human beings.

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08. The History of the Scottish Biting Midge

Man wearing midge net
Culicoides have been on this planet for a very, very long time. Specimens of this genus related to species alive today have been found preserved in 120 million year old amber in Lebanon, and in Scotland, in amber that dates back 75 million years.

Midges have played a role in the history of Scotland throughout its long and fascinating past – as much – if not more – a part of the country as unicorns, thistles, tartan and haggis.

Bonnie Prince Charlie’s encounters with midges while hiding in the hills after the Battle of Culloden have been vividly described, and there are also gruesome tales from Scotland past of people being left tied to a stake in a midge field as a form of torture.

The presence of biting midges in Scotland has shaped land use over the centuries, with implications for agriculture, forestry, outdoors recreation and, of course, tourism.

Scotland’s midge fauna was first scientifically described and investigated in the early 20th Century but it was not until the middle of the century that Scotland’s midges were investigated in more depth. The University of Edinburgh set up their ‘Midge Control Unit’ in 1952.

Interestingly, though strides were made during this period in our understanding of these creatures, there was a lapse in research of some thirty years or so before modern approaches to the ‘midge problem’ took over. These have produced a wealth of information on population dynamics and the life cycle of the midge which have helped to determine potential ‘solutions’ for humans to live in harmony with the biting midge.

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About the author

Written by: Doug

Comments on this post

  • Nicholas Bennett
    24/05/19 - 16:06

    Fascinating and great depth to this post Douglas! We developed a natural flying bug repellent when we started our company up in the US Virgin Islands and then Florida to repel the no-see-ums and mosquitoes that you will know are prevalent over there. On our return to the UK (we are Brits) we, and our many customers, have found that it works as effectively on the flying bugs and midges over this side of the Atlantic too, as you might expect being from the same family (Ceratopogonidae). We’d love to offer you a free sample of our Awesome Bug Repellent bar for you to trial on your next venture into ‘the land of the midge’ so you can let us know how you get on! Kind regards, Nick

  • Ivey Davis
    11/06/19 - 00:40

    I have enjoyed reading these articles ,I say get rid of all midges they have gotten into my house and come after Easter and leave about August and they eat me and my dog up ,I have over 100 bites on me ,they are pure tourment of the devil from hell if you ask me ,very dangerous in mental status and scarring you for life ,the human being should be way more than an insect like that,it’s not like it saves life’s of people I say kill them All ASAP Sincerly !Ivey Davis

  • sandra brown
    13/06/19 - 00:35

    When I used to do a lot of hill walking around Scotland the midge would feast upon my skin and when my walking boots were laced up I don’t know how the little blighter’s got into my socks to bite my feet too. It was a nightmare as instead of enjoying the great outdoors it was a human picnic for these insects to feast upon me.
    When ever I do my garden in the summer again I have succumbed to the wrath of midge again and my husband never
    gets bitten when he cuts the lawn and I think he must have an inherited gene that is mentioned and I want to harness this gene so that I can have a midge free skin during the summer months. I have used so soft and up to a point it must be used at regular intervals otherwise the midge will continue to feast. I often wondered if they are attracted to the carbon we breathe when we are in the garden or attracted to sweat and if we wear deodorant.

  • Julia
    22/10/19 - 15:44

    Fascinating article, thankyou.
    I just wanted to add that i learnt recently, that the reason the Ancient Romans never conquered Scotland…..wasn’t because of the native Clansmen…..but because they couldn’t seem to get past the midges!!!
    There WAS use for the evil little blighters once upon a time eh?!?!?!

  • Mike
    29/01/20 - 20:55

    Had planned a 10 day trip to Scotland from the USA with my wife in late June of this year. This would be our 25th anniversary trip, and I’ve wanted to go to Scotland all my life. We love hiking and part of trip was going to include highlands, Isle of Skye, etc. I was unaware of the midge problem, but as I’ve been researching the trip, the midge has taken over.
    I have lots of negative experience with mosquitoes and have changed trips in order to avoid them. I attract them, and have very itchy reactions to their bites.
    Should we be be considering a different location for our anniversary celebration, and put off the Scottish dream until outside the midge months?

    Thank you for any insights. [email protected]

  • Tony
    14/02/20 - 16:41

    Mike, I am in a similar predicament, we are planning a week on a secluded highland base, the Isle of Carna but not until June 2021 (needs to be booked well ahead as its a conservation area with only two properties on the whole island). I have paid deposit but seriously thinking of changing my mind having read through this information.Can anyone offer any peace of mind resolution?

  • Jennifer
    05/03/20 - 20:23

    Excellent write-up. To the point, nicely written with just the right amount of humour, and sticking to the facts, Sir. Thank you.

  • Judith Contreras
    21/04/20 - 04:45

    I have no idea why they are in south Texas. But I made it to the age of 65 without even knowing they exist. I am now a bloody pulp, and I won’t give up until every single one of them is dead. Nasty as hell and I hate them.

  • Steve
    03/06/20 - 20:11

    Midges are few on the East coast, Aberdeen round to Inverness and up. I live just North of Inverness and have few problems. The key to avoiding them is never go go to the West or central Highlands between mid May and September unless it is windy or sunny or preferably both, The absolute worst conditions are calm and damp (eg light rain) they are then out in their millions, if you find yourself out in such conditions keep moving, they are attracted especially by the carbon dioxide in one’s breath. For the same reason, keep away from standing groups of people.

  • Leslie deans
    05/06/20 - 11:59

    I live In Edinburgh , Scotland ‘S capital city. There are no midges here at any time of the year. Midges only affect the beautiful Nort West Highlands and Islands. Avoid these areas in June July and August and you’re almost certain to be fine. I have never come across midges in May up there. Be warned however, they are nasty little devils.

  • Bob Phillips
    16/06/20 - 13:47

    Hi Everybody. I live bang on the West Coast of the Highlands, just about level with the north of the Isle of Skye, my daily view. Before I moved here – from the far SW of England – I would only ever come to the Highlands (for backpacking, effectively living in the mountains for 2 or 3 or even 4 weeks at a time) in April/May. If lucky, the midges wouldn’t appear till very early June – the non-biting males might be out and about by mid-May, and the biting females 2 or 3 weeks later. I have been absolutely mobbed as early as the second week in May, in Torridon (Midge Central!). The sight of a dozen backpackers packing their gear before the start of a challenge walk would have been funny if I hadn’t been one of them!! Talk about origins of the Highland Fling!!! It is TRULY MISERABLE for those 30 minutes or so, the midges slowing everything in the packing process thus extending the misery longer still. Once under way, and a little height gained, midges are no longer a problem. But you do have to keep moving. It’s a little like not having warm enough clothing on the hill – you have to keep moving to keep warm. Likewise, as long as you don’t stop to eat or enjoy the view, fine! Now I live where I do, I just come indoors if they are bad. A few will follow you in, but they have never been a problem indoors. Even in a tent – once you are inside, zip right up (the right tent will have copious midgy net doors) watch the few that got inside gather near the highest point in the tent and leave you alone. After you have stopped scratching – the histamine you release makes you scratch all the more, resist at all costs to reduce itching – you can spend many happy hours lying on your back in your wee tent, squishing the dozens/hundreds of midgies against the tent fabric above you. They appear to lose interest in the inhabitant/s once inside, something I have never understood. One year, camping in the Knoydart hills, the midgies that came into my tent one time were so well fed that I left much blood smeared on my tent inner. Who’s blood it was, livestock or mine, I never did know…

  • Jane Cuthbert
    17/08/20 - 22:55

    Guardians of the north
    It is the speed of a surprise attack and the ferociousness of the airborne piranha that make the wee Scottish midge a force to be reckoned with.

  • Doug Currie
    19/08/20 - 12:35

    I remember the Scottish Midge Control Unit back in the 50’s. There was a young Indian graduate carrying out investigative work with Dr. Kettle, the first head of the unit. She went back to India around’57 and became a top consultant on biting flies and suchlike with the Indian Army who had a vast number of horses at the time.

  • Dorothy Scott
    23/08/20 - 23:34

    Is there anything that can relieve the itching after having been bitten by the midges.

  • Anna Giakoumakis
    15/09/20 - 01:05

    Hi we would like to know how to get rid of midgets what put on them . Any home remedies thanks so much for assistance.

  • Bob Cannell
    09/03/21 - 21:10

    They breed in rough wet grass. Once upon a time before the clans burned each other out, Scotland was covered by trees and rough grass was not as common. And neither were the wee peskies, most likely.
    Smidge works fine. Plus a hat net. Never go to the highlands without one if you intend to be outside.

  • Mike H
    27/03/21 - 08:42

    I witnessed a curious phenomena with midges a couple of years ago while hillwalking just North of Blair Atholl.
    We had camped for the night on the west side of a ridge to watch the sunset. Midges were unbearable so the whisky session was cut short. As discussed in an earlier comment, once they’re in the tent they congregate at the peak of the roof and are easily mushed, but we could see them accumulate outside, all across the tent’s inner mesh doors.
    When we rose early the next morning, I could hardly see through the mesh door for tens of thousands of the beasts attracted to my CO2 / scent / body temperature. I braced myself for the onslaught but when I opened the zips they remained on the fabric of the tent. I was able to pack up in about 20 minutes and almost began walking again before they started biting.
    Why? We were in the shade of the ridge. Although the sun had risen in the east behind it, our tents were still in the shadows. The midges remained dormant until about 1 minute after the sun hit us, then all hell broke loose.
    They are either solar powered, or it was too cold for them to to fly (September) until the sun warmed them a little.

    Mike H

    P.S. Avon Skin-So-Soft is the most effective repellent, but not for long.

  • Gayle
    13/04/21 - 13:52

    I have a net (acquired in Australia for flies) that goes over a hat for when they are bad is useful. Avoid water and low lying bog areas. But the best thing I have found for all biting insects including Mozzies is called Odomos. You can get this in India and is all natural, smells lovely and is like a cream. The tubes look like toothpaste. I have found it on sale on Amazon, and in shops around the UK run by people from South East Asia, especially in places like London and Birmingham. I do not use DEET products when in Mozzie countries any more, just a stock of this wonder product.

  • Christine
    05/09/21 - 23:45

    First time my son and I went to Isle of Skye in Scotland and returned yesterday I had no idea what the Midges were until two days ago I was swamped by these insects and been bitten so badly I had to retract from climbing the old man Storr. And went on a boat ride the next day to see the seals and the dolphins as soon as we came back from our trip oh my God these little devils were all over my head, face behind my ears and the neck in millions and they have bitten me so much I cannot explain the suffering I’m going through. And it itches so badly and no way I can stop scratching it. I just gone through these wonderful articles and got my information so late instead of researching it at first and after I got bitten by these nasty creatures now I’m getting my information. Anyway its not too late to learn and now this has given me the opportunity for my next trip and I will make sure thorough research done before booking. With all these nasty bites I loved the mountains and the fresh air and the water which I thoroughly enjoyed except the Midges.

  • Martin Fuller
    14/09/21 - 05:36

    I use Smidge and swear by it even in Midge hellholes like any NW Scottish forest or moor. Put it on like suncream before you go out. Face all over , neck all around and any exposed skin and wear a hat. I always wipe my hands across the top of my hair after putting it everywhere else. If done properly the midge will only hover near you but not land on you. Always cover your skin and hope for some wind.

  • Steve Kelly
    04/11/21 - 13:12

    Do they affect dogs…? It may sound strange, but I just don’t know. Thanks

  • Neil Drain
    09/11/21 - 14:14

    We live in Ontario, Canada and we’re plagued by the nasty little Black Fly. Not sure if it’s the same as a midge but they’re definitely the same kind of problem. Black Flies usually come out in late May, and this “scourge of the north” can make life miserable for every warm blooded creature. We’ve seen moose chased out of the bush by them! The good news is, we get very hot (35C+) humid summers which are too much for these nasty critters. A good heat wave usually kills them off. The unfortunate good news is, they pollinate blueberry bushes. There’s a silver lining in every cloud.

    07/07/22 - 10:46

    My family and I stopped in the woods near Loch Lomand a few year ago, we sat and had a picnic. I was the only one who didn’t get bitten. I went to Vietnam for few weeks working with Primates in the jungle, I was the only one who didn’t get bitten by mozzies, until I had a nasal spray containing steroids. The only thing that stands out from me and the sufferers, is that I have been vegetarian for 40 years, I don’t smoke, and I didn’t wear perfume, but did wear deodorant?

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