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Midge Q&A with Jo Farrow

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Midge season is approaching once more, and we have Jo Farrow, a weather forecaster with Netweather here to answer some Midge questions:

I saw a few midges about this weekend in the heat and sunshine, should I be worried?

No, early in the season most of these midges don’t bite, they are the males. It is the females who are after your blood, they need it to develop their eggs before they lay them.

After the long cold February and March this year can we expect fewer midges, a better season?

The numbers in a season do vary and there is recorded data across Scotland.

There are peaks in the numbers from May to August, occasionally September. Midges hatching May June time, possibly a second peak in July, in warmer years a late burst from eggs laid that spring hatching the same year. It's a cycle of laying, hatching feeding (biting) and laying again. The winter has little effect on what’s lain underground. The hatching eggs do need moisture once stirred by warmth. Dry spells can affect numbers, more rain is favourable for higher amounts of midges.

Why are some areas of Scotland more popular for midges than others?

Western Scotland receives more rainfall than most of the UK, the land and vegetation is ideal for midge egg laying, hatching in damp conditions and areas for the midges to shelter and lurk in daylight hours.

They do manage to survive in all sorts of climates, Australia, Lapland, California and there are many different varieties of this biting insect.

The Scottish midge or Midgie is active in low light and light winds, they aren’t that efficient at flying. This variety don’t like bright sunlight so are often active early morning or at dusk. There are other types that just come out and bit at midday.

Why do midges bite some people more than others?

Not everyone is tasty to midges. Some people just don’t’ get bothered by them, others seem to be plagued or their bites flare up into big red welts. It might be to do with your smell, some people take vitamin B, eat garlic, yeast extract to ward them off or just confuse. They want bare skin, so covering up helps, and wearing light clothing, they prefer a dark surface. Once one has a nibble, she will call her friends over.

That is where midge spray comes in. Trek Midge & Tick spray is an insect repellent, which produces a repellent vapour which stops the midge from homing in on human skin. The vapour also has an unpleasant smell and taste to biting insects. They then don’t want to land on or bite you.

If you want to find out if it is going to be a midge fest for your day or week’s activities, remember they don’t like strong winds, even a breeze over 7mph and they don’t tend to venture out. Strong daylight is a no no, cloudy calmer days are a risk, with light rain too. Mid-May until early August are the main months, sometimes you just have to retreat.

Written by Shaun
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