If you've been doing research about Scotland you'll have no doubt heard about the notorious wee beastie that goes by the name of "Midge". Conversation usually goes something like "those BLOODY midges were everywhere!" Or "I've been eaten ALIVE!!". You may not recognise the name Scottish Midge , they are also known as "no see ums" in the states which I think is a pretty excellent and appropriate name for the little swines.
For those unprepared they can indeed be a complete pain and can easily ruin your holiday but fear not, a few simple rules and some good midge repellent should make your trip to Scotland beastie free and let your enjoy your trip without the need to turn into a mad man/woman, swinging tennis bats/hand bags/frying pans around your head like you are doing the time warp.
The Scottish Midge hates when the sun comes out, which is why so many are in Scotland I suppose ? What they do enjoy though is in the evening when they want to party! Even more so when you are situated near dense woodland or still water. If you are camping or sitting outside and one finds you they will bring their friends!
They tend to come out from late spring to late summer and seem to prefer the Highlands over the Lowlands so a trip to Dumfries and Galloway in March is likely to be absolutely fine but a trip to Glencoe in July and you should go prepared. They aren't the same as mosquitos, they are much smaller, mosquitos aren't really found in Scotland and if you do happen to see them they definitely won't be the type to carry malaria.
Did you know it's only the females that bite, men say what you like about that. They hang out with all their friends until they smell food, then fly toward the source in a big freaky cloud.
The perfect recipe for an attack of the midges goes something like this...
You are up in the highlands, far from the coast, at a campsite and you've pitched your tent. You and the family are sitting outside in the evening, it's a warm and balmy night. The air is calm, not even a whiff of wind. It's been raining so the ground is damp but it's cleared up now. You are all cosy on the grass next to the trees, chatting away. You are wearing dark clothes. One just happens to fly past, you've been spotted. He goes back and tells his friends, "Hey, anyone hungry? I've just found a whole bunch of humans that look especially tasty".
Oh and if you've had a few too many and can't make it to the toilet block, don't even consider stepping into those trees to relieve yourself because you'll wake those beasties from the beds and your bits and pieces will seriously regret it.
You will be safe though sitting in direct sunlight, which they really don't like, and if there is a breeze, even better! They hate nothing more than fresh sea air so if you are having fish and chips for lunch, sitting on the pier they won't be interested. Mind you the seagulls will, no, that's a whole other story.
But fret not, there are ways to stay safe. Firstly know which situations you are likely to find them and avoid, sit inside in the evening or head to a local bar or restaurant. You can keep the windows open, they are too lazy to fly inside. Wear light coloured clothes, it doesn't matter what material you wear as they won't bite through anything other than your bare skin which bring me to the next point - cover up! The more you have on the less of a chance they will find somewhere to bite. Save your picnics and BBQ for a nice breezy sunny day.
Next - be prepared. Have with you at all times some essentials. I always carry a bottle of Smidge but I've also heard lots of good things about Avon So Soft and there are many more on the market. You should also consider one of these rather fetching Midge nets to cover your face and neck. They might look daft but you won't regret it.
Oh and keep your spray handy, don't stuff it at the bottom of a bag or leave it in a suitcase/tent/car.
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Now that I've put you off coming to Scotland and before you go and start researching a trip to Spain don't be overly concerned. You won't always encounter the wee devils, I spent a week doing the North Coast 500 and didn't see a single one. During all the travelling around Scotland I've done (a lot!) I've only really been bothered by them once. That perfect example above, I did that. I went one better too and bought a Midge candle, but thought the idea of it was to keep them away so put it in the centre of the table beside us. Take note, these candle ATTRACT the midge, so keep it lit FAR away. Ouch. That was a mistake I won't be repeating.
I've compacted all this info in a handy wee video here...
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