A third wave of midges is set to feast on anyone who ventures outside well into September, depriving Scots of their usual annual reprieve after a summer that likely spawned a record number of Scotland’s most notorious beasties.
The ferocious Highland midge had an early start to its annual season. But after the usual pattern saw the insects decrease in number, through the summer, it’s making a comeback and there’s a good chance we’re in for a rare third hatching.
“Midges go through two generations usually in a season, but we’re now well into the second generation which is bigger than we would normally expect because it’s been lovely and warm but it’s also been quite damp,” said Alison Blackwell, chief executive officer at Dundee-based APS Biocontrol Ltd., who has been working with midges for more than two decades.
May’s first hatchings happened two weeks earlier than usual because of warm temperatures.
However, the cool and unsettled weather that followed affected the second hatching and the peak populations normally seen in June didn’t quite reach their potential.
“Each season is really different… this season has been really weird,” she said.
Regardless, APS Biocontrol, which runs Scotland’s midge forecast, said we could be looking at record overall numbers.
In 2017, it was estimated there were 68 billion of the insects – of those, 21 billion were estimated to be females. They are the ones that bite.
Of course, nothing is certain in the insect world.
“It could start snowing next week and that would be the end of the midge season,” she said. “[But] it looks at the minute that the second half of the season will be a record compared to the last five to six years, though the first half of the season was pretty mediocre.”