The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Midges swarm to idea of a biting spring

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There may be fewer human targets in the countrysid­e this spring, but Scotland’s midges are set for a perfect swarm.

The official Scottish Midge Forecast launches this month and will also include data on another biting beastie – bloodsucki­ng ticks.

The unpredicta­ble weather last year took the bite out of midges with numbers down by 15% compared to the previous year.

But, despite people being restricted from going outdoors in the current coronaviru­s lockdown, one of the world’s leading experts on the insect said humans were still on the midges’ menu and there would be a lot of them.

Dr Alison Blackwell said: “People get bitten

“People get bitten but midges actually prefer cattle, deer and sheep”

because they are there but midges prefer cattle, deer and sheep.

“Though there are fewer people about outside, it won’t affect midge numbers – the conditions ahead look good for them – or them seeking out humans.

“For the forecast this time, we are seeking data from people who have their own midge traps and we will also be including informatio­n on ticks,” added Dr Blackwell.

Numbers of midges were well down in last year’s early season, which was good news for Scottish tourism.

Dr Blackwell, of Dundee-based APS Biocontrol Ltd, said: “First generation midges mate and lay eggs that normally give rise to a second generation about six weeks later.”

She and her team previously calculated that the total number of midges in the Highlands and islands was 139 billion.

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