The Scottish Midgie – A survival guide

The Scottish Midgie – A survival guide

So, what is the ‘midge’?

Here’s what the Oxford dictionary has to say about this little creature:

Midge   | mij |


1 a small two-winged fly that is often seen in swarms near water or marshy areas where it breeds. Ÿ The families Chironomidae (the nonbiting midges), and Ceratopogonidae (see BITING MIDGE): numerous species.

  • [with adj. ] any of a number of small flies whose larvae can be pests of plants, typically producing galls or damaging leaves.


2 informal – a small person

Now, here’s what we have to say about this tiny fly:

Firstly, forget the Oxford Dictionary’s second point – this blog is NOT a guide on the repellence of dwarfs. That would be sick.

Secondly, the Oxford Dictionary is wrong. Here in Scotland, the home of the pest in question, we pronounce it ‘midgie’ (plural: ‘midgies’).

Thirdly, our definition is much more simple. Midgies are, for all intents and purposes, a pain in the arse…or arm, or leg, or face, or any other bared inch of your being that they care to chow down on.  With that in mind, we’ve put together this handy guide to avoiding and repelling the little pests. Don’t say we’re not good to you.


STEP ONE: know your enemy

The art of war teaches us that we must know our enemy, so while the Oxford Dictionary has kindly provided us with the beginning of our education into this insect, we though it important to arm you with some more ‘fun midgie facts’ as a basis for your battle against these beasties.

  • Just like microscopic airborne draculas, midgies suck blood from the skin, causing swelling and itching that can last up to a week. What fun.
  • Midgies prefer to hunt down their human prey in the Highlands and Western Scotland, where damp conditions provide optimum breeding grounds.
  • While traditionally we can expect to be graced with the presence of midgies from early June until late October, climate change means that midgies are now not only extending their season, but also increasing their range, meaning bites a plenty. Thanks climate change! Furthermore, despite the exceptionally cold winters recently recorded, scientists have found that the extended freezing conditions have increased rather than hindered the number of midgies in the Scottish Highlands, as a result of the reduction of their natural predators: another delightful byproduct of Scottish weather.
  • Research states that a swarm of midgies can cause around 3,000 bites in one hour, with 40,000 midges landing on an uncovered arm within the same time span. WHAT?!
  • Midges hone in on their victims by locating carbon dioxide in exhaled breath and ‘other odours’ excreted from their victims. We don’t know what these ‘other odours’ are…we’ll let your imagination run wild on that one.
  • Apparently midgies have somewhat particular tastes, with a lucky few bite-free individuals being repulsive to their delicate palates. Helpfully enough though, no one knows what it is about these individuals that repels the naughty mites. Excellent.


So, now that you’re more familiar with our friend the midgie, we can move swiftly on to step two: how to avoid or repel it!


STEP TWO: How to avoid or repel the midgie

Before deciding on how extreme your midgie precautions should be on any given trip or excursion, it might be an idea to check out the midgie forecast. That’s right…a forecast…just for midgies. Here have a look:

Once you’ve ascertained the midgie levels in your area, you may then proceed to adopt any or all of the following precautions and midgie repellant methods:

  • Sit in the sun if it’s shining – midgies much prefer the shade.
  • Hang out in the breeze – the merest waft of wind will send midgies packing, even walking will keep them at bay!
  • Midgies prefer to come out to play early morning and late evening – so try not to sit out during these times.
  • Wear white or light clothing if you don’t want to attract our little insect friends (although determined midgies will see past your bright white façade, and eat you anyway)!
  • During times of high midgie intensity, consider wearing an anti-midgie hat, which is similar to that of a beekeeper’s. If you like the sound of those, and enjoy looking ‘nuclear-war-chic’, why not consider picking yourself up a full body suit, known as “Jackaroos” for men, and “Jillaroos” for women. Stylish AND practical!


So, to summarise: in order to stay midgie free on your next Scottish jaunt, be sure to keep walking at all times; in the sun, in a windy area, while wearing an all white protective body suit and beekeeper hat. SIMPLE!

OR, you could do the sensible thing, and get yourself some Avon ‘Skin So Soft’ body spray. Although not actually created as a midgie repellant, it sure as hell does the trick. What’s more, this delightful product leaves your skin oh so soft and smelling pretty. BONUS. You can purchase yours here:


STEP THREE: Enjoy a bite free midgie season! Hurrah!