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Also see GNATS index.asp?pageid=732698

The Red Deer may be the animal that is proudly used as a Scottish icon, but the other animal that is very significant and in fact world famous is so small that is would be difficult to use in the same way. That is the midge. 

It is also the one that everyone of us has come across. And tourists looking for Scottish wildlife are sure to have close encounters with. 

LiveBreatheScotland.com refers to the joke about midges being a major predator in Scotland and how they do actually influence tourism and the local economy. Camping trips, fishing, and hiking are directly affected and many a tourist alighting from a comfy coach will get off with a smile at a great scenic spot to take a photo and hastily return to it waiving their hands around, scratching and swearing. 

Is a GNAT a MIDGE? Yes and no. Common parlance may tend to use the terms interchangeably, but they shouldn't. The Content Authority website clarifies the differences. (There are  more details on their website).

A gnat typically refers to a small, two-winged fly that belongs to the family Culicidae. These insects are often found near water and can be a nuisance to humans and animals alike. They are known for their painful bites and their ability to carry diseases such as malaria and Zika virus.

A midge, on the other hand, is a type of small fly that belongs to the family Chironomidae. These insects are often found near bodies of water and are known for their swarming behavior. While midges do not bite humans, they can be a nuisance when they swarm in large numbers.

West Dunbartonshire is not immune to the scurge of the mighty midge, but we are, comparatively speaking, very much less so. Certainly in an urban back garden they are almost unknown. At high levels such as up the Langcraigs and Kilpatrick Hills, the breeze drifts them away. It is that middle earth that they find themselves most at home. And looking for bare arms, legs, necks ......... Just a moment, I need to scratch.

How on earth did the national dress of Scotland get to require bare knees? 

Of course not everyone is as susceptible to midges. Quite why is debatable. And the best remedy for prevention and/or respite is too. Covering up is the first option, but they have a sneaky skill at somehow getting through almost everything. Walking around with a head net works reasonably well - even you look weird. 

So why do they target me? CO2 on the breath tells the midges you are an available meal. In fact body odour, heat, sweat, colour and movement all give you away. 

So why not that person over there? A chemical called ketone has been identified in individuals who seem less palatable to midges. 

Innitially the midge will simply come over to taste you. If it likes you it will use its serrated jaws to make a small opening to sate its appetite for blood.

Solutions, as already noted, are debated. There is no perfect solution and research goes on, but a look at the website links below give some useful pointers. All supermarkets and chemists and many outdoor shops sell the current favourites. Even tourist shops get in on the act, but tend to relish the anguish and make a living off sourvenir post cards,books, stickers and T-shirts proclaiming "Beware of The Scottish Midgie".

Hillwalkers are a tough bunch. But if you meet some smelling sweet, (sweet, not sweat, but could be both), then they may be using Avon Skin So Soft. A surprising, but much depended on midge solution. But there are many others working in different ways.

The Call to Adventure website describes the life cycle of the midge : 

The male midge usually emerges in early May. Shortly after the females join the party. They mate and then the male midge dies. About a week later the midge offspring mature. The eggs then hatch to become soil-dwelling larvae. They then go through a number of stages before maturing themselve. This is known as the first generation. Sometimes there's a second generation or even a third. Their life cycle usually comes to an end as the weather become colder.

CALL TO ADVENTURE : https://www.calltoadventure.uk/post/midges-in-scotland

CONTENT AUTHORITY website : https://thecontentauthority.com/blog/gnat-vs-midge

LIVE BREATHE SCOTLAND - Midges in Scotland: A Survival Guide by Chris Thornton : https://www.livebreathescotland.com/midges-in-scotland/

OUT AND ABOUT SCOTLAND : https://outaboutscotland.com/midges-in-scotland/?utm_content=cmp-true

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