The Highland midge (scientific name: Culicoides impunctatus) (Scots: Midgie) (Gaelic: Meanbh-chuileag) is a species of small flying insect, found in upland and lowland areas (fens, bogs and marshes) especially in the north west of Scotland from late spring to late summer. These insects are also found in suitable habitat throughout the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, other regions of Europe, Russia and Northern China. Female Highland midges are well known for gathering in clouds and biting humans, and are the smallest flies in Scotland to do so, though the majority of the blood they obtain comes from cattle, sheep and deer. They are generally regarded as pests.
Despite Scotland's exceptionally cold winter in the early part of 2010, scientists discovered that after the prolonged freezing conditions, rather than reducing in number in the Scottish Highlands, the midge population had actually increased the following summer due to the cold weather reducing its natural predators, such as bats and birds.
The female midges tend to bite in close proximity to the breeding site (although they have been found up to 1 km away) and near to the ground, and are most active just before sunset. Midges are less active after sunset, as well as with wind speeds of over 6 mph, or humidity below 60-75%.
- Hendry, George. Midges in Scotland 4th Edition, Mercat Press, Edinburgh, 2003 ISBN 1-84183-062-3
- APS Midge Forecast Interactive midge forecast for Scotland
- Institute of Animal Health Culicoides impunctatus
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