What Causes the High Population of Midges in Scotland?

Scotland is known for having a high population of midges, even after a harsh winter. These tiny insects can be found in hundreds or even thousands, especially in the Highlands. Midges are similar to mosquitoes, and their bites can cause itchiness and discomfort.

Reasons for High Population

There are around 35 types of midges in Scotland, but only five of these bite humans. The Highland Midge is the most common type found in Scotland, and they are known for their biting tendencies. Additionally, the freezing temperatures during the winter season reduce the number of midge predators, resulting in a population boom during spring and summer.

In 2010, scientists predicted a decrease in the Highland Midge population after a brutal winter. However, the freezing temperature had also reduced the number of their predators, leading to a midge population boom instead.

Bonus Fact!

In medieval times, Scottish lords would torture people by exposing them naked to midges. Although this would not kill the person, they would eventually become insane after a few days of constant biting.


1. What are midges?

Midges are small, biting insects that belong to the family of flies known as Ceratopogonidae. They are commonly found in Scotland, especially in the Highlands and islands, and are known for their painful bites.

2. Why are there so many midges in Scotland?

The high number of midges in Scotland is due to the country’s wet, damp climate and abundance of standing water. The insects breed in bogs, ponds, and marshes, and can thrive in areas with high rainfall.

3. When are midges most active?

Midges are most active during the summer months, from May to September. They tend to come out in the early morning and late afternoon, and are particularly prevalent in humid, still conditions.

4. What are the effects of midge bites?

Midge bites can cause red, itchy welts that can be very irritating. In some cases, people may have an allergic reaction to the bites, which can cause swelling and discomfort.

5. How can you avoid being bitten by midges?

There are a number of ways to avoid being bitten by midges, including wearing long sleeves and pants, using insect repellent, and avoiding areas with standing water. Additionally, midges are attracted to dark colors, so wearing light-colored clothing can be helpful.

6. What can you do if you are bitten by midges?

If you are bitten by midges, there are a number of over-the-counter treatments available, including antihistamines and topical creams. Applying a cold compress to the affected area can also help to reduce swelling and discomfort.

7. Are midges harmful to humans?

While midges can be very irritating, they are not generally considered harmful to humans. However, in rare cases, they can transmit diseases to animals, so it is important to take appropriate precautions when in areas with high midge populations.

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