Everyone has heard of the Highland Midge, but have you heard about the mythical sounding Bog Myrtle?
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
With over 150 types of biting midge in the UK and 37 of those species being found in Scotland, Bog Myrtle is definitely something you should know about.
First up, for those who have never encountered the Highland Midge (lucky you!), i'll start by explaining why a tiny fly that is, on average, 1.5mm wide, can reduce grown adults to tears and even supposedly made Queen Victoria abandon a picnic at Balmoral!
They may be small, but there is no denying that they are mighty. In one study, it was claimed that up to 20% of forestry working days can be lost due to the impact of these 'mighty midgies'. It is also estimated that they cost the Scottish tourist industry around £268 million a year in lost revenue too.
The Highland Midge, typically referred to as a 'midgie' is also known as Culicoides Impunctatus and they are typically found in the North and West of Scotland, but they can also be found in other parts of the UK, albeit in lower numbers.
Midgie season is typically from May until about September but it is the arrival of the female midges in late May and early June that signals the true start of their season. Females only bite because they need blood to lay their eggs.
To feed on our blood (if you are squeamish, best turn away now!) they first have to cut our skin - they do this by using their sharp teeth and jaws in a sawing motion before excreting a saliva into the wound to prevent the blood from clotting. When a small pool of blood forms, they can feed for between 3 and 4 minutes before becoming fully engorged.
Midges tend to be found in places with plenty of damp, boggy soil which are perfect as breeding grounds where they typically bury their larvae underground. They can also be found in and around bodies of still water such as Lochs or calm river pools. Even paddling pools and forgotten buckets of water can attract them! They also favour places which are sheltered with high rainfall and high humidity.