Chris Bowness Landscape | When Midges Attack!

When Midges Attack!

August 30, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

If you have actually read any of my blog posts, I mention midges a few times, they are small biting insects that attack in vast numbers. I thought I would post the video and pictures below to explain the Scottish curse that is the Highland midge.

I travelled up to the bothy on Saturday to do some work. When I arrived the midges were not too bad and we got stuck into the various jobs - I was working on a window. As it got later the midges were getting worse and they were attacking in numbers,  so I went into the bothy, applied midge repellent and also put on my head net. I went back out and was working away happily as I only felt the occasional bite on my leg and waist. Feeling the bites, I tightened my trousers around these areas. and I kept on with the work. From time to time the midges would suddenly start to swarm, then they would mysteriously and quite quickly drop back to reasonable levels, probably due to a breeze as midges are badly affected by wind.

Carrying on with finishing my task before dark, I looked down after a while and was shocked to see that my legs were coated with a living mass of insects - I grabbed my phone out my pocket, took off my work glove and filmed this quick clip of the mass of midges on my legs and flying all around me:

In the company of MidgesTrying to fix a window on a Saturday night at the bothy...

Concentrating on my task, I had not noticed the sheer amount of them. After I stopped filming they quickly dispersed again, leaving me to finish the job.

When I got back inside the bothy, I realised that the occasional bites that I had felt were actually quite a lot of bites! I was bitten quite intensely around my waist and ankles. The midges mainly strike as soon as they find skin and I ended up with obvious clusters of bites at places where the midges found gaps in my clothing.

I took these photos of my waist and legs on Tuesday, 3 days after I had been bitten.

Midge bites on my waistMidge bites on my waistThey have left me with a belt around my waist where they bit. The crack of my bum was the worst affected but I am not taking pictures of that! Tuck in your clothes to avoid this! Midge bites on my legMidge bites on my legThe midges attacked mostly just on the sock line, so I have a swelling there of multiple bites.. - Next time I will tuck my socks in to my trousers!

I had itchy bites all over but luckily not on my face due to the repellent and net; my hands and arms were pretty good too, again due to the repellent and work gloves. I am pretty pleased that I withstood a decent midge attack - although I was not unscathed, I managed to carry on with what I was doing. The headnet is essential as without the headnet the midges attack nostrils, ears and eyes, as those areas cannot be covered by insect repellent, that is unbearable and I would simply give up. I find that the repellent called Smidge is effective for me, as they do still land on skin that is coated with it, but they bite much less than they would otherwise. 

The lessons learned for me is to put Smidge on my legs and waist next time, tuck my trousers into my socks and t-shirt into my trousers and I will hopefully return next time with much fewer bites. Midges also seem to prefer to land on dark fabrics than they do on bright coloured fabrics, you can see that in the above video. Incidentally, the bothy was full of midges but once they get into a building, for some reason they do not bite, they just gather on the window and try to get back out!

As I went to sleep that night I closed my eyes and all I could visualise was swarms of midges flying around my head - it was better than counting sheep as I fell asleep very quickly! 

Here's another video of the midge swarm that I posted on Youtube that shows the swarm:



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