Hot weather sparks return of midge menace


SCOTS could be in for a midge epidemic after last week’s hot weather triggered an explosion of the wee beasties.

And Dr Alison Blackwell, the country’s leading midge expert, claims that if the sunny spell continues we could be in for a bumper year.

Dr Blackwell, who runs Dundee-based Advanced Pest Solutions, used traps placed around the country to assess the numbers of the insects and produces a forecast based on the data.


The Highlands are plagued by the insects, which could be more numerous this year  Photo:Blisco

Experts had been hoping that the colder weather in April and May could have altered their breeding patterns.

But Dr Blackwell says that a warm June could lead to a plague of the microscopic beasties. She predicts a sharp rise in numbers over the next six weeks.

She said:”Our current catches are down  on what we’d expect, but the main first hatch of midges usually comes in May and, if the weather gets warmer, that would provide perfect  conditions for them. It could be a bumper year.”

With the start of the warm weather, Dr Blackwell said she expects numbers to rise over the next week, and continue rising over the next few months.

She said: “The lower winter temperatures mean more eggs will have survived, so we can expect to see a much bigger midge population by the summer.

“The best advice I can give is to invest in a good repellent and wear trousers and long sleeved tops.

“Avoid prime midge times which are usually dawn and dusk.”

Last Year Dr Blackwell said that new research indicated that cold weather led to more midge larvae surviving.

She predicted that the blanket of snow which had covered the country for most of the winter would contribute to a particularly bad midge epidemic.

Instead of being killed off by the million as a result of ground frost, the blood-sucking insects were kept alive in record numbers by a protective blanket of snow.