August 10, 2015
Lots of people, when they see this disgusting photo, will go: “Oh that’s not midges. That’s….”
And then they’ll shove in their tuppenny ha’penny worth as to what they think was the real culprit.
My legs. My bites. And it definitely was midges, I can tell you. I was there. It wasn’t in Scotland, surprisingly, but by the road at end of a particularly lovely sunny day last Wednesday in mid-Wales – my birthday, as it happened – when our car got a flat tyre and I had no option but to crouch there being eaten alive while I changed it.
You wouldn’t think creatures so small could wreak so much havoc. (Well, actually you could: fleas are about the same size and do the same damage). That’s probably why when I felt them feasting on me savagely I didn’t do what I would definitely done had it been they been, say, mosquitoes on a roadside in the Democratic Republic of Congo and changed into long trousers sharpish. I just carried on, thinking, “Ah well. It’s only midges.”
Some midge facts:
An individual midge is almost invisible to the human eye, at about a millimetre long. Only the bloodthirsty female causes us torment. The male feeds on plants and nectar, while his mate requires blood to form her eggs. Midges are alerted to human prey by the carbon dioxide on our breath. A swarm can inflict about 3000 bites per hour using a distinctive feeding technique: while mosquitos pierce the skin and suck up blood through a syringe-like mouthpiece, midges cut the skin, and then lick up the pool of blood that forms.
Oh, and apparently, midges cost the Scottish tourist industry £286 million a year in lost income from all those tourists who’ve been chomped and vow never to return.
How many bites can you count on my leg? If you email me at Jamesdel@dircon.co.uk and you’re the first with the right-ish answer then I’ll send you a free signed copy of one of my books. You’ll deserve it. You’d have to be pretty weird, bored or obsessive to count the insect bites on a revolting photograph of someone’s leg. So I shall be very interested to see if anyone does.
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