Scottish midges

Midges - what are these wee beasties?

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 small midge

All About Midges


Midges are tiny - the size of a pin head or smaller, but larger insects like mosquitoes are often confused with midges. The midge is of the genus Culicoides, which is of the insect family Ceratopogonidae. The nastiest of these is the highland midge, Culicoides impunctatus, one of the smaller midges, which apparently accounts for nine out of ten human bites in Scotland. They're usually called midges, but on the West coast of Scotland we often call them midgies. Makes them seem more friendly somehow. Luckily the Scottish midge will not give humans diseases, though some unlucky people can have an allergic reaction.

There are dozens of species of midges in Scotland, more in the rest of the UK, and thousands worldwide. Most species don't bite, and it's only the female that bites, but that's little consolation if you're covered in them - and they're biting like mad. Males come out a few days earlier and just dance for the fun of it until the females hatch. You can see these clouds of male midges dancing but even if you walk through them they're not interested, though it's not a good idea to take the risk.

Female midges bite because they need blood so they can lay their eggs. But they can lay eggs in the first batch without blood, and that's why they're unlikely to ever die out. They like to lay their eggs in peaty wet soil. As well as blood, midges do seem to feed on flowers - and vegetation. We think they also like rotting vegetation, and perhaps even help prevent plant diseases, but this is pure speculation.

Apparently when midges bite you they inject a pheromone to tell other midges you're fair game, so avoid the first bite by using a repellent or covering up and using a midge head net. Bats and swallows feed on midges, hundreds at at a time. If you see them around, watch out, there's midgies about!

If you've had enough of midges, get the repellent!

If you want more facts, there's:
when do you get midges
where do you get midges
what can you do about midges
what to do if you have a midge bite

 what a nasty bug

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