Culicoides impunctatus,Meanbh-chuileag or midge. A pox upon you whatever you are called!

IMG_2164A   When taking this picture in the croft behind our house I almost died of midge

Midges. Usually that type of introduction is followed by “you either love them or hate them.” Not with midges, nobody likes midges. Everybody hates midges. The wet weather has made them more prevalent and only the west highland breeze has kept them in abeyance (that’ll be the west highland breeze that appears at number nine in the Beaufort Scale and when it blows “some branches break off trees, and some small trees blow over. Construction/temporary signs and barricades blow over.”). However when the breeze doesn’t blow stepping outdoors here becomes utterly unbearable in seconds. The little blighters – I am going to really struggle not to swear every time I mention the midges. I shall give it my best endeavours but I am not promising anything, feelings can run high on this topic – stampede for you the second you exhale. It has been a tough summer for them and they have a lot of time to make up. They want your blood and nothing is going to stop them.

You could lose litres of blood  taking this picture at the wrong time of day in midge season

There are many different ways to counter the midge. You can try one of the many and varied insect repellents available. All the local pharmacies have shelves laden with all sorts of very expensive concoctions that will cause many forms of insect life (and most mammalian) to give you a wide berth, except the midge. All these forms of chemical warfare are sneered at by the midge and are pretty much useless but are very effective at lightning the wallet or purse. They can also cause other problems; I spilt some in a pocket of a golf bag and the bag melted!

The fabled Skin So Soft from Avon does have some repelling effect on the midge but it is probably the fact that many other midges have landed on your so soft but very shiny and actually a bit nippy skin and died that puts the rest off. It puts quite a few people off too, your face being covered in thousands of tiny insect carcasses.  Possibly more effective but a lot more inconvenient is the midge net. A fine mesh bag that is placed over the head, imagine a hood used at Abu Ghraib prison for prisoners afraid of the dark. Actually not afraid of the dark, in that establishment they would use it for Agoraphobics probably. The hood comes both with and without a built-in hat, but either way you just look silly.

There are only two ways to avoid midges. One is to visit in winter and the second is to remain indoors at all times in the summer (the Boss has pointed out that it is a waste of time staying indoors if you then let your dogs out for a pee. The little swine use the dogs like a Trojan horse- now there is a phrase I hate. The horse was GREEK for pity’s sake. They put all the effort into thinking up a brilliant winning strategy and the losers get all the credit.)  If you do have to venture out always do so in a car, van or bus with it’s aircon on full tilt on the coldest setting. It isn’t very green but it is midges we are dealing with here, honestly if there was a nuclear option you would consider it. After 5 minutes in the midges company there would be no consideration you would press the red button with no thought as to the consequences just as long as the tiny invertebrates were gone.


Sending someone out to take this picture at dusk in May almost certainly breaches their human rights.

I wrote that this morning.  It is now late evening and I am lucky to be alive. Whilst out this evening in an attempt to catch the usual stunning sunset we have here every night on the hills above our village I stumbled into the middle of a veritable midge jamboree. I have never seen and suffered from so many midges before, I was inhaling the little… let us call them falkirkers shall we? You know what I mean. It was appalling, so bad the Assistants, dogs who are used to and pretty much immune all sort of insect attacks deserted me and headed back to the car. It was incredible, I was changing a lens and some of the little …bathgates …  got inside the camera body. All the shots I took are either out of focus because every time I put my eye to the viewfinder I got an eyeful of midge or the picture is blurred because I nudged the tripod flailing at the little shi…that was close. Anyway I had already been to Eilean Donan Castle and got a nice picture, but still.

I tell you if the big red button had been offered to me tonight Skye and Lochalsh would be a great big glowing cinder by now.



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