Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Midge Cometh!

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.

12 comments:

Pomona said...

Luckily we don't get midges, but we do get mosquitoes as we are near the marsh - but I don't think they are nearly so bad! We just have to remember not to have the lights on and the windows open at night in July/August. And they only come out to bite at night.

Pomona x

Preseli Mags said...

We get midges here in Pembrokeshire too and I've encountered them in north Devon.

These southern softies don't bite as ferociously as their Scottish counterparts but I still can't go into my garden on summer evenings because of them.

Elizabeth said...

My husband refuses to visit Canada on the grounds that the mosquitos are the size of small helicopters.
My grandmother used to call all flying, biting things 'midges' --not sure that they had the ones you described in Northampton circa 1950!
Once went by ferry to a beach on the South shore of Long Island without anti-bug stuff and were tormented until kindly natives gave us all sorts of chemical balms.
Do hope you are spared this year?
So horrid to have to stay indoors when the weather is nice!

Heather said...

I am old enough to remember meat safes Pat - Granny had hers on the wall just outside the back door. Those were the days?! I also remember being bitten by midges on holiday on Vancouver Island. The best remedy there was an ammonia pen - like a chunky biro but filled with ammonia and with a sponge tip. It gave almost instant relief, until the next bite!

Mac n' Janet said...

We have them in Georgia, we call them No See Ums because they're so small. They come with the first warm weather in March and stay till about November. We spray with Off.

Maggi said...

We have midges too and their presence means that I can't garden in the late afternoon/evening. They tend to see me as a late lunch!

Pondside said...

Oh I well know that Nova Scotia biter! I have a tiny hole in the side of my knee - still visible after all these years - from a particularly awful bite!

Tess Kincaid said...

I must admit, I've never heard of a midge. I'm now off to google.

Leilani Lee said...

We came back from our 16-day vacation to find the rain barrel we left at a good spot to catch water from the roof (so our friend could water the garden) was filled to the brim with water and filled also to the brim with wriggling mosquito larvae.It rained enough so that she did not have to water the garden. We are paying for it. Scratch scratch

ChrisJ said...

On our last walk along Flamborough Cliffs in late July one year, we met what we called 'midges' -- tiny little flies that cover everything. By the time we left the cliffs we were covered with them. The locals called them Thunder Flies. Fortunately they didn't bite!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Antihistamine cream works wonders but doesn't quite stop the itch.

Seems they like some people more than others. Thanks for the comments.

Jinksy said...

Eek! Midges are a menace...