Midges in Scotland: how to stop midge bites itching
Midges are tiny swarming insects that are common in the Scottish Highlands during the summer months. They are normally active at low light so are typically seen around sunset. Bites from midges do not transmit disease but can make life almost unbearable. Citriodiol® based repellents will help stop midges from biting but not from swarming around you. Covering skin with clothing will also help prevent being bitten as midges can’t bite through material, and light clothing is preferable to dark. They can get under clothes so you could avoid them with more protective methods such as anti-midge hats, midge body suits and midge netting (smaller than mosquito nets) to cover tent entrances.
It is advisable to note the periods and conditions when midges are most active, and avoid being outside during these times. Calm, still windless summer evenings are when midges will be most active. They struggle in windy conditions and tend to stop flying. It is also important to try to avoid wet, boggy areas which are common breeding sites for midges. As midges are less common at heights (above 700m), try to get to higher ground.
Scottish midge facts
What are midges?
Midges are tiny flying insects and the Highland midge (Culicoides Impunctatus) is the one that causes issues, particularly in Western Scotland and the Highlands.
- Only the female midges bite.
- Biting midges are normally about 1.5 mm long
- Female midges are only active in low light so the most active period tends to be the two hours before sunset
- Midges are an important part of the ecosystem and are food for other animals such as bats and birds
- Midges don’t transmit diseases to humans in Britain.
- Midges lay their eggs in wet soil in boggy, wet areas where there is normally Sphagnum or purple moor grass
Midges in Scotland – the best time to avoid
If you want to know when is the best time to visit Scotland to avoid the midges, you need to find out when is the midge season in Scotland. Adult midges in Scotland start to come out in April and they are active on the wing until October. There are often two peaks in emergence during this period which are the worst time for midges in Scotland so these are the best times to avoid – one in late May/early June and the second in late July/early August. In saying that we’ve been on holiday in the Scottish Highlands and Islands during these peak midge times and it hasn’t stopped us going back year after year.
The best method to avoid being bitten in the Highlands is to use a repellent and to recognise the conditions when midges are likely to be most active and avoid going out in them.
Top tips to avoid midge bites
- Cover exposed skin– midges have short mouth parts so can’t bite through material although they will crawl under clothes.
- Useinsect repellent. Below we list some insect repellents you may want to try.
- On still summer evenings, try to avoid being outside.
- Be aware that calm, windless days and dull days are likely to be more midgey– midges stop flying in wind speeds greater than about 6mph.
- If you encounter midges, keep walking as they can’t fly as fast as you can walk.
- Wearing light-coloured clothingmay attract fewer midges as, like goths, they seem to prefer dark colours.
- Avoid breeding sites (wet, boggy areas)or at least keep up-wind of them.
- Get to higher groundas midges are less common above 700m.
- Use MBOX mosquito trap.
Why is QM mosquito trap better than the other? The shape, size, color and height of the mosquito machine can make a huge difference. So does the amount of CO2, octenol and/or lactic acid released. Some frequencies of lights work better than others. The way the fans are designed to draw them in makes a big difference. Finally, placement of the devices is very important. A good trap in the wrong location will not be effective. MBOX uses a new and highly effective method to catch mosquitoes. First we have to understand that only female mosquitoes need blood (protein) in order to lay eggs. Female mosquitoes track their victim through CO2 up to a range of 50meters, combined with the sense of smell of H2O, female mosquitoes are very effective in tracking their victim. http://mbox-qm.com