Saturday, 25 August 2007

The biting season

This last week has seen the midges in full biting mode here in Berneray. From experience over the last seven years, Berneray usually gets off lightly. However, a combination of:

  • there being no flies around to eat the midges

  • there being no wind

  • a mild winter

  • ...and it being that time of the year

...means that the blighters are in full swarming mode this morning. After less than 2 minutes outside, I've accumulated another dozen spreading red patches to add to the collection - those from last tuesday are now turning into joined-up miniature bruises.

Here's an archive picture by Lhoon of what appears to be a synchronised attack by a platoon of them (my bite marks are unfortunately larger):


I've recently taken up kick boxing again, having been a bit good at it several years ago and remembering it's a way of losing weight (it's working!) and keeping various muscle groups in shape (or, in my case, getting them someway back to pre-flab days). However, it's an utterly useless form of defence against a swarm of tiny attackers such as the midge. A roundhouse kick leaves them unconcerned and still hovering around, looking for a patch of bare skin to land on. Though it provided a brief moment of amuseument for a pair of passing hikers with flailing arms.

There is a midge forecast service online. It isn't accurate for here, certainly not for today anyway (1 and 2 mean negligible or low levels of midge activity):


There's a wide range of "treatments" and ways of allegedly avoiding the midge, from nets to creams, potions and eating marmite with every meal for 2 weeks before (midges apparently hate the odour of vitamin B12). But the best way of all seems to be a two-pronged approach:

  • Is it windy?: safe to go outside

  • Is it not windy?: stay indoors

And what exactly is the point of the midge, anyway?


  1. I think midges are a bit like the weather: you can talk about them endlessly, but you can't really do anything about them. So God/evolution/whateveryoubelievein created them to give humankind something to talk about.That's my theory anyway.

  2. Ha Ha. I am sure I have entertained someone somewhere with midge weather weeding techniques. Imagine a lovely sunny day, blue skies and little white clouds. Weather so still the willow-trees look limp. Imagine a small gardener wearing an old jacket and wooly hat, racing through the garden with a large yellow bucket, grabbing the biggest weeds and rushing on, cursing as she goes.I hate midges. They don't bite me much, and I hardly mark, but I can't abide them. They are horrid sneeky things that crawl into your eyes and ears and nose. I just stay in on midge days.

  3. welcome to the club last week i was walking the dog and had bad idea to be wearing a dress thet was low cut at the back--the results are spectacular!!! twenty odd mosquito bites------during the day i don'f feel them but during in my sleep i scratch all the time so they bleed; bring on winter!

  4. i have had over 25 painful bites at one time, sometimes it takes three weeks for the bites to go away. they go after my face and back even get into the sides of my clothes, i feel very unfeminine when this happens!

  5. oh! i forgot to say that ive seen them in the shopping mall bathrooms and the food court of eastern hills mall, williamsville, ny usa....ive even taken specimens and sent them to a university to have them identified...sure enough, i got it in writing.officially..BITING MIDGE FLIES!

  6. Last month I was involved in a trial of a midge repeller you carry with you, called a VAPE Portable. We went out into the Loch Laggan area and bared arms in timed experiments to see how it perfomed compared to a control group. It cut down the number of midges landing by more than half those in the control group. What's good is that you don't have to apply anything to your skin and it stays effective all the time you're using it, oh and you don't have to consume jars of Marmite.

  7. over here in all chemist shops you can buy citronella oil:-for normal people this seems to work--but if you are like me----very UN-NORMAL it has no b****y effect!

  8. After having just been in Sutherland and home in Inverness-shire for ten days, I had to arm myself good and proper against the little *******s they go for me like flies round $hite! First I tried the vitamin B1 "Highland Midge Patches" (highland-midgeDOTcoDOTuk) which my boss told me were super-fantastic. Were they heck. What a waste of money! Then we tried that Avon spray stuff that you get in outdoor shops like Tisos. Utterly useless. Then I had a shot of one of those midge net things you put on your head. No thank you, it was suffocating. We had to resort to DEET in the end which stinks, but it was the only thing which would keep the clouds of them away - even then, though, they'd still land on you occasionally, although they didn't bite. I LOATHE those infernal blood-sucking beasts!

  9. 20 species of midge in the UK, only 5 of which bite humans, and there all in Scotland!! I wonder if this is what kept the Romans out?? I HATE midgies with a passion and can completely empathise with the person running round the garden doing the weeding as i'm the same with anything i have to do outside at this time.