1 EAGLETON NOTES: B****y Midges

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Monday, 18 June 2012

B****y Midges

One should always be careful for what one wishes.  Over the last few weeks I've been very conscious that one of the dangers of wishing that the wind would abate was that the midges would appear to torment us.  Well today (written on Sunday) the wind was a friendly Force 3.  That was comfortable but sufficient to keep the midges at bay.  However about an hour ago the wind swung round from the Northerly sector to the Southerly sector at Force 1 after a short period with no wind at all.  In fact as I write this the wind has ceased and the gauge is registering zero.  The consequence is that the midges are everywhere and we are confined to barracks.  Actually 'we' are not.  David and Molly are out there.  Molly is obviously oblivious and David's need for little white cancer sticks is greater than his dislike of the little annoying bitey creatures.

I reached for my trusty Midges in Scotland by George Hendry.  A must read for anyone coming to or living in the Highlands if only for the humour of which this cartoon is a taster (used on the basis that the copyright holder won't mind given that I'm giving this plug and using it as a 'quotation' for the purpose of honest comment).  The work is otherwise an exceptionally readable treatise on how and why the midge plays such a dominant role in the ecology and human life of the Highlands.

When I first came to live on Lewis in the mid '70s I was told that more people left the Islands because of the midge than because of unemployment, that every midge represented a sin of mankind, and that for every midge killed a hundred came to seek vengeance. I didn't believe such superstitious nonsense.  But do you know what?  On a day like this I realise that it wasn't superstitious nonsense after all.


These days however when the midges get bad even the hardy road workers wear midge protection clothing such as the Midge Head Net or Midge Jacket which were probably inspired by this Punch cartoon from 160 years ago.











10 comments:

  1. I have just decided that, much as I'd love to see the very beautiful landscape of your part of the world, I won't take a holiday there anytime soon...
    Friends of my parents once spent their vacation travelling through Alaska in a mobile home. They said there were so many mozzies there it was like looking at a moving curtain every time they opened the door of their van to go out.

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    1. It's not that bad. Meike, and it's not constant. They just come out on warm days like this morning when there's not a breath of wind. That's not too common in Scotland!

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  2. I can see why you may need cartoons to play the glad game with the midges! (Thanks for the reminder to fully appreciate my urban environment...)

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    1. Yes, Monica, when they are out they are not fun.

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  3. I am a magnet for all kinds of insects. Even on an ordinary English summer's day when nobody else can see any insects, I have been known to tramp around the countryside only half visible within my personal cloud of flies. As T sings, "bluebottles that around you hover... "

    I also react very badly to bites, of all kinds. One reason why I tend to visit Scotland early in the year, when I go. I believe myrtle that grows wild around there is good for repelling midges, although in my case I am sure it wouldn't work enough to notice.

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    1. Oh dear, Jenny, I do feel for you. A few years ago I would not have understood from personal experience but, although midge bites don't bother me so far, bites I've had in New Zealand and France have created reactions which seem to be getting more serious: the French bugs in particular whatever they were. They never used to bother me too much.

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  4. We were lucky when we were up - Uist was pretty much left alone by them, even on the fairly still days! MrEH gets sought out by anything that bites, which acts as a repellent for me when I'm with him, but is less than pleasant for him.

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    1. Hi Robyn. I'm glad that the little blighters have never dampened your enthusiasm for these Islands. The Good Thing about them is that, unlike mosquitos in places where they abound, midges don't appear all the time.

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  5. I grew up in mozzie country and am quite immune to them now. But midgies - how they love me. I'd have to send several bite testers outdooors even on a windy day, before I could be enticed outside I think.

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    1. Yes, Pauline, I just arrived home from town, put shorts on and sat down outside with a coffee (after all there's not a cloud in the sky nor a breath of air and it's a balmy 13 deg c). The midges didn't appear until I'd finished my coffee. If I go and garden this afternoon it'll be with trousers and a midge suit methinks.

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