Yes it’s true, the Scottish Midge knows no fear, can possibly be the most irritating creature you’re ever likely to encounter, and can spoil your camping break as quickly and dramatically as a force-10 gale.
So how can you avoid being a pop-up restaurant for the little blighters and being driven-off from your otherwise perfect camping spot?
Unfortunately, there’s probably no true escape from the bloodthirsty beggars – let’s face it, unless you’re prepared to camp in temperatures approaching zero, you will get drained of life’s fluid. However there are a few ways you can mitigate a severe mauling from the marauding midge:-
- Try to camp as far from standing water as possible. Midges like still-water ponds and puddles very much. It’s rumoured they even breed there.
- Ideally camp somewhere that catches a bit of breeze. Midges find you by homing-in on your breath and they can’t do this if it’s windy, so picking a spot for your tent that can make the most of the slightest zephyr would seem like a good idea. Totally exposed, halfway up a mountain usually works.
- Midges don’t like tobacco smoke. So shutting yourself in a tent with a pipe or cigar is a solution but rather unpleasant for a non-smoker, or when you have to eat.
- If you are not backpacking, eat in the car, although this kind of defeats the purpose of being close to nature experiencing the great outdoors.
- Midges seem only to be able to find you when you are stationary – so keep moving if you can.
- Having a tent lined with an enclosed mosquito net is a huge bonus.
- Make sure all exposed skin is covered-up.
- Use insect repellants liberally but avoid getting it on the fabric of the tent as it can damage it.
- If you are camping in the summer months when the wee beggars can be at their worst, the Cairngorms would appear to have slightly less of a midge problem than the Western Highlands.
- Should the above advice not provide sufficient protection from a Scottish midge assault and when all else fails, there’s always the Alps – they don’t seem to have any midges.
There is a theory that the Scottish midge is the end result of an environmental disaster – possibly the clearing and near collapse of the Ancient Highland forest. The theory also suggests that as the forest is reintroduced, and the land is naturally drained, the soil will become less acidic. This may result in other insects and birds flourishing and eventually lead to the demise of the midge in great numbers.
Only problem? It will take another 100 years! Until then we’ll just have to live with them