If you're planning to explore Scotland's stunning landscapes this summer, it's advised to take precautions against attracting midges and other insects. Learn where to expect them and how best to avoid getting bitten.
FAQs about Midges
What are midges? Small two-winged flies which often from swarms or clouds. There are a number of different species of midge, some of which partly feed off nectar in addition to the blood of animals and sometimes humans.
- Which type of midge lives in Scotland? The Highland midge. It's found throughout the British isles, northern Europe and even northern China.
- Are midges like mosquitos? No. While midges might look like mosquitos close up and suck blood, they are not mosquitos and do not spread malaria.
- What do midge bites look like? Small red dots which can develop into itchy, painful swellings and even blisters.
- Are midge bites serious? Midge bites are harmless but if the skin around the bite becomes broken it could become infected.
- How do midges detect their prey? The midge locates its prey by picking up carbon dioxide exhaled into the atmosphere.
- Did you know? Only the female midge bites!
- Where are the midge hotspots Scotland? The west of the Highlands, islands and parts of the Cairngorms. They are also found in Perthshire and Argyll.
- At what time of year are midges most common? From May to October.
- Where are midges found? Midges love humid and damp conditions as well as shady spots. Marshlands, grasslands, forests and woodlands, the banks of rivers, ponds and lochs; all are magnets for midges.
- At what time of day are midges most active? At dawn or dusk. They also like damp, clammy days with overcast skies and little wind.
If you are planning to venture into an area populated with midges preparation is the best defence against getting bitten. Here are simple steps you can take.
- White or light coloured clothing - midges are drawn to dark colours
- Repellent (preferably DEET free) - popular brands include Avon Skin So Soft, Mosi-Guard, The Wee Midge, Jungle Formula and Smidge
- Bite treatment lotion or cream
- A net face covering worn over a hat
- Smoke-emitting burners or coils - be sure to properly extinguish after use
Be Tick Aware
It's also worthwhile taking preventative measures against tick bites, especially while walking and camping. While mostly harmless, tick bites can carry the risk of developing Lyme disease.
- What are ticks? Ticks are tiny non-winged insects which look a bit like spiders. They feed off the blood of mammals including people.
- When is tick season in Scotland? May to October but they can be found throughout the year if conditions are damp and the temperature is warm enough. Remember that ticks can survive in temperatures above 4°C (39°F).
- How do people and animals come into contact with ticks? Ticks attach themselves to mammals when they brush past them on long grasses, plant leaves and other vegetation. Ticks don't fly or jump.
- What is the tick's habitat? Anywhere with overgrown grass including meadows, moorland, forests and woodlands, and gardens.
- What does a tick bite look like? A small red bump with may be painless. It can also be itchy, inflamed, blistered or bruised.
- Are tick bites dangerous? The majority of tick bites are harmless with minor short-lived symptoms. Some tick bites can contain bacteria which can cause serious illnesses, including Lyme Disease.
- Where are ticks found in Scotland? Ticks are most commonly found in the west Highlands, the north-west coast and its neighbouring islands.
As with midges, there are certain behaviours and pieces of kit that can help you combat tick bites:
- Stick to footpaths and avoid walking through tall grass
- Wear light coloured clothings and trousers made of tough fabric trucked into socks
- Check exposed skin at regular interals for ticks
- Insect repellent - quality brands include Smidge and Trek
- Safely remove a tick with a clean set of tweezers or a tick removal tool - cleanse the area thoroughly with soap or disinfectant