3 tips to avoid Midge Misery in Scotland – Know your Enemy

Scottish / Highland Midges are attracted to the CO2 in your breath, dark clothing, love hovering around marshy, wet, boggy ground, undergrowth in the cool, still, gloomy weather conditions typical of dusk and dawn and may also harbour a hatred of Vitamin B1. They are reportedly bad Tindr dates as a result of these characteristics.

  • PREPARE: We humans have at least one distinct advantage (and possibly more) over the dreaded midge …we have more than one brain cell. Think ahead and invest in a midge head net, midge jacket, midge mittens, midge sprays, creams and potions and prepare some Celtic sacrifices to the gods of Dampness & Desperation. The number of midges varies considerably from season to season – a wet summer last year is usually good for their breeding and subsequently bad for the following summer – June, July and August usually being the worst months for midges. The first frost usually kills them off and might also explain the penchant for winter hiking in Scotland.The Midge Forecast can help.
  • PLUNGE: into one of Scotland’s lochs (lakes) or lochans (little lakes). No, not as a final act of desperation when plagued by the miniature monsters. There are around 31,000 lochs in Scotland and whilst the temperature of these lochs is not generally suitable for swimming (except for the brave, mad or bad), you can hit the water in other ways to avoid the midges eg. sea kayaking, packrafting or sailing is a great way to avoid midges whilst still enjoying Scotland’s rugged coast and beautiful landscape. Direct sunlight and anything more than a light breeze will usually disperse them enough for you to be comfortable.
  • PERSPECTIVE: If all else fails, think of the chomping plague as motivator midges, pushing you on from loch to hill. How many times would you have stopped to pause had the midges not been nibbling your nose? How many times would you have pulled out the tent because “this far is fine” but for a bite on your butt?  Almost everyone who has walked or hiked in Scotland, from the Picts to the present-time, I imagine, has a cloud of midges to thank for giving them that extra push onwards in times of  wilted willpower, and for that we should be thankful.

Lastly, don’t listen to the old Scottish superstition, “Kill one midge and a thousand will come to it’s funeral” … It’s just another example of the Scot’s dry humour… I hope…

 

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