Early warm weather looks set to bring explosion in midges
THE warm start to spring has prompted warnings that Scotland should be braced for a record season for midges.
The biting insects have already emerged a month earlier than usual, enticed out by the unusually sunny weather in March.
Dr Alison Blackwell, an expert on midges, said that the weather conditions could not be more perfect for the unpopular insect.
“The main first hatch of midges usually comes in May, but we have had reports of people being bitten in late March,” said Dr Blackwell.
“It is very surprising. But it is perfect conditions for midges as they hatch and could be a bumper year for them.
“They seem to be extending their season and range with the climate change. We had reports of them biting into November last year. They normally disappear by the end of September.”
Last year, Loch Ness saw the highest total in the annual Scottish midge forecast service report.
“Midges have been around for thousands of years, but with climate change they are increasing their range and extending their season, meaning more bites. Biting midges are infamous in the Scottish Highlands, but they are now also found in other parts of the UK, including the Lake District and North Wales,” said Dr Blackwell. “Midges target their victims by sensing carbon dioxide in exhaled breath and other odours associated with their targets.
“They like warm and damp conditions. They don’t like hot and dry summers. The first big hatch will be by the end of next month – in fact there are already some about.”
The debate about how best to avoid midge bites has raged for years, but one of the most popular remedies is Skin So Soft by Avon. For the thousands of people who get bitten, a study this week showed that over-the-counter insect bite creams don’t work. Letting nature take its course is the best way to get over a red, itchy midge bite.
The midge forecast – run by Dr Blackwell – is available on www.midgeforecast.co.uk from next month.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East