I read today in the Times that any day now the dreaded midge will arrive in Western Scotland and that because of the 'right' weather conditions the 'crop' will be up by 200 or even 300 percent. There seem to be peak explosions - the end of June, the end of July and then a smaller peak in September.
The Highland midge is the worst offender although it only has a wingspan of 2mm at the most. Apparently it cuts a small hole in human skin and then sucks out the blood. You really wanted to know that, didn't you?
My one and only real encounter with the midge was a few years ago in Nova Scotia. We arrived late one afternoon at an absolutely beautiful log cabin site on the banks of a river. Each cabin was on stilts so that you had a beautiful view of the river and the surrounding trees (I am itching already as I write this!). When we arrived at our cabin we were interested to see that every window had a screen of what looked like perforated zinc (remember that on old meat safes many years ago? No? Well you are not old enough then). Wonder what that is for we mused?
About one hundred yards away from our cabin was a lovely restaurant. They rang through and asked for our order for dinner and we ordered Planked Salmon. We showered and walked over. By the time we got to the door of the restaurant the midges were thick around us and biting like mad. What is more, they were huge.
The planked salmon was delicious. I asked the waitress when the fly had come and she said that day. I asked her how they coped with them and she said, somewhat laconically, 'we don't!'
After the meal we put our cardigans over our heads and literally ran back to the cabin - and there we stayed. Those who dared to have a walk along the river bank - it looked so inviting - paid the price and were covered in bites.
There is a 'midge belt' around the world, in that area where the ground is humid, boggy and acidic in Summer. I remember many years ago seeing cities in Siberia when we were told that thousands had died of malaria during the building of these cities because of malaria-carrying mosquitos.
I read also in the Times that this tiny little biting lassie (yes, it is mainly the female who does the biting) is beginning to spread into the Lake District and North Wales - so watch out down there.
I for one am keeping clear. If there is one within a mile of me it will search me out and have a feast. You have been warned.