Wee Beasties

Midges In Scotland

Midges in Scotland

Welcome To Scotland.

Midges in Scotland can be a real problem.  Visit any country in the world, and as soon as you head for the great outdoors, you can be sure to find wild animals, only too ready to bite chunks out of you.

Depending which country you are in, it could be lions, tigers, bears....

.....in Scotland, it is the midge!  Small in stature, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with its enthusiam,  and the ability for one midge which has found you to quickly organise a flash mob of a million of its friends to help in the attack.

Here is some advice on how to cope when, as we say in Scotland, "The mudges is chust terrible".  (Or everything they didn't tell you in the tourist brochures)

Where Are The Worst Places For Midges In Scotland?

Midges are not really a problem in the cities - yes there are a few yuppie midges living in places like Glasgow and Edinburgh, but these don't really cause any inconvenience - they'll bite you, but their heart's not in it.  However, venture over to the West coast, The Highlands, the far North - or the Hebrides and it is a different story.  In Neil Munro's famous books about Para Handy, skipper of the Vital Spark, Para Handy declares that the worst place in Scotland for "mudges" is Tighnabruaich where the "midges can bite through the corrugated iron roofs"

The rule of thumb is that the number of midges is directly proportional to the beauty of the view.  So as soon as you stop your car to get out and admire the stunning Scottish scenery - the midges will be there, ready and waiting.

But all is not lost!  One thing the midges can't cope with is anything more than a gentle breeze. So they are usually only a problem in nice calm conditions - often early morning or in the evening.

Midge repellents

In my opinion, there are really only two serious contenders which have any effect on midges:
Smidge and LifeSytems Midge & Mosquito repellent.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages as detailed below.


Smidge is what I use.

The advantages of Smidge are:

  • It stops me getting bitten
  • It smells OK
  • It doesn't cause me any skin problems
  • It doesn't contain DEET
  • It is a pump action rather than an aerosol
  • It doesn't dissolve plastics or man made materials

The disadvantages of Smidge are:

  • It doesn't actually stop them landing on me - which is half the annoyance factor of midges

So despite the fact that the midges still crawl all over me, I prefer to use Smidge.  The main reason is that I tend to use it when I'm fishing, or hillwalking and either DEET, or the solvents used with DEET, can dissolve plastics.

So expensive fishing lines, cameras etc are at risk when your hands are covered in a DEET spray.


The advantages of the LifeSystems Repellent are:

  • Stops you getting bitten
  • Is better at keeping the midges from actually landing on you.

The disadvantages are:

  • It contains DEET which some people are wary of spraying on themselves
  • It has a stronger, not so pleasant smell as the Smidge
  • It can affect plastics and other synthetic substances
  • It is an aerosol rather than a pump action

Midge Head Nets

Sometimes when the midges are really bad, no repellent will be good enough to fight them all off.  At these times, only a midge head net will do

The picture on the right is of me getting ready to go fishing on Loch Hope where the midges are notoriously fierce.

The picture at the top of this page is of my fishing partner, similarly kitted out in a headnet.

Wearing a Midge Net

The advantages of a head net are:

  • Stops you getting bitten
  • Midges don't land on you
  • The only thing that will work when the midges are really bad

The disadvantages are:

  • In order to stop midges, the mesh of the net has to be really fine - this restricts visibility.
  • You have to get the net on early, or you risk trapping lots of midges inside the net.  At Loch Hope we always put the nets on before we get out of the car.
  • You look daft - actually, when given a choice between The Loch Hope midges and looking daft, looking daft wins every time.

Warning: Do not buy a mosquito head net! The mesh is too large, and the midges can crawl through.

Here is a short video taken by an angler who was fishing Loch Hope - and this was in the accommodation!

Final Tips For Avoiding Midge Bites

  • Keep moving - standing still is a great way to attract a horde of midges.
  • Avoid calm days in the countryside - especially in the morning and evening.
  • If you are on holiday here and you've treated yourself to a fine Scottish tartan kilt - don't wear it until you get back home - there is nothing the midges in Scotland like better than the exposed knees of a tourist.
  • If all else fails, run!
    I have actually seen people running from midges - but I'm a fast runner and I soon passed them - it's everyman for himself  where the midges are concerned.





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