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Prepare for the 'perfect swarm' - midge warning

By Mike Merritt

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Alison Blackwell
Alison Blackwell

JUST when you thought it was safe to go out, the long hot summer has a sting in its tail – an unusual third hatch of midges.

The leading expert on the biting beastie reckons the warm and moist conditions predicted for September made it "very likely" more misery is on its way.

Ironically, the recent heatwave saw numbers caught in recording traps fall dramatically.

It is some respite for people who have complained of huge swarms earlier this summer – especially on the west coast.

The first hatches were unseasonably late because of the Beast from the East and the second – and usually last – emerged earlier this month.

The third hatch could become a regular "perfect swarm" occurrence because of climate change, says Dr Alison Blackwell. "A third hatch is very likely given the warm and moist conditions predicted for September. People may need to get used to three hatches. But overall this summer has been a quiet year for midges – for once! They will be back though."

Dr Blackwell, who runs the official Scottish Midge Forecast, said the third generation is likely to drop off quite quickly once cooler nights start to kick in.

The number of midges seeking a "blood meal" over the summer has been put at around 21 billion.

Two million midges weigh just a kilo – and one square metre of land will contain about 500,000 of the insects.

The flying midge lives for between two days and two weeks depending on weather conditions.

During this time the female can lay up to 170 eggs in as much as three batches. In a normal year there are two to three generation of midges born during the season.

Dr Blackwell, director of Dundee-based APS Biocontrol Ltd – makers of anti-midge repellent Smidge – added: "To get rid of them you would have to change Scotland’s landscape – and that is not going to happen. I am afraid they are here to stay."

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