It is not just the rain the Western Isles have been escaping from this season, the islands have also become a safe haven from one of the ultimate summer pasts – the meanbh-chuileag.
Also known as midges, they cause misery to fisherman, hikes, campers and just about anyone they have a taste for. But this summer the Outer Hebrides, often one of the most midge infested places in Scotland, have been spared from the torment of the tiny but persistent wee beasties all thanks to the dry weather over the last few months.
Dr Alison Blackwell, director of the firm Advanced Pest Solutions which created the Scottish Smidge Forecast, explained: “Your lack of midges is probably due to the dry weather making conditions less favourable for the midge.
“As they are very small. With 2mm wing span, the dehydrate relatively quickly and hence, the damp conditions elsewhere in Scotland have led to the current bumper populations we have been experiencing.”
In fact as with the rain, those on mainland Scotland have had worse luck than their island counterparts and are suffering from a massive increase in midge numbers.
According to Dr Blackwell’s research, the Cairgorms, Loch Ness, Argyll and all the mainland sites where she conducts midge traps have seen more than a two fold increase in numbers compared to last year.
The midges are sure to return, just like the rain. But there is some good news to keep in mind. Dr Blackwell explained because the dry weather has probably killed of a proportion of the first generation midges, this will in turn most likely lead to a small second generation, which we should expect any day now.
So here’s to a relatively midge free summer.