Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Midgie Mayhem!

Us gardeners have a lot to deal with in the garden. From slugs and snails to fungal diseases and mossy lawns there is always something for us to fight. But here in Scotland one of the BIG issues (which is ironic as they are so teeny weeny!) is the midgie. It strikes fear into the hearts of all of us outdoor adventurers. So what are they, why are they so annoying and what can we do to fight back?...

The Culicoides impunctatus!


The Facts:


  • The highland midge (midgie to me and you) also has a fancy-dan scientific name. It's the Culicoides impunctatus. Why don't you drop that into conversation next time you are out in garden and impress your friends ;) 
  • The midgie is most commonly found in North West Scotland from late Spring to late Summer (er, hold on a minute, is that not where we are going on our holibags this year Mummy?!) but can be found in many areas across the UK. 
Watch out, it's the girls that bite!
  • It is the female midgie that is responsible for biting us (no comments please boys!)


  • Midgies are most active just before sunset. They become less active after sun set and when winds are above 6mph. 
  • Midgies are like little mini draculas and suck blood from the skin which then causes the itching and swelling (yuck!)
A swarm can bite 3000 times in an hour!!!
  • Midgies zone in on us by smelling the carbon dioxide we exhale.


  • Research has shown that a swarm of midgies can cause around 3000 (yes, 3000!) bites in an hour and up to 40,000 midgies can land on an uncovered arm during that same time frame. Yikes!
So, now you have read the scary facts (!), how can we try and avoid being bitten by these little critters? Here is the "Lulu's Garden" guide to keeping the midgies away this summer...
  • Sit in the sun - midgies prefer shady spots (I know, I know, it's Scotland but we can but hope!)
  • Avoid sitting out in early morning and late evening, the midgies' favourite munching times!
  • It is claimed wearing light coloured clothes can help keep midgies away (although they are determined blighters and that alone won't be your saviour!)
Pack your bag Mrs Midgie, we
have ways and means...
  • You can get an anti midgie hat to wear (although it won't do much for your street cred!)
  • If you have a particularly bad problem with midgies in your garden you could consider a midgie machine. Manufacturers claim these are very effective (and many users back this up) although M&D had one and returned it as it didn't catch any in our garden! Some camp sites have these in their grounds to make your stay more comfortable.
  • Use a midge repellent. My mummy (who, like me, midgies love dearly) swears by Skin So Soft from Avon. However, there is a lovely new product which has just arrived on the market too. It's called "Midge Magic" and it's handmade in Scotland (so they understand the midgie issue!) by the clever people at Yumm Naturally in Crieff. It is made with 100% natural ingredients and is deet free. Not only does it keep midgies away but it also smells lovely and keeps your skin lovely and soft. It's fine for littllies like me to use although pregnant ladies (like my Mummy!) should avoid using it during their first trimester. 
The clever people at Yumm have created this
brand new product (and they understand midgies!)
  • Make a midgie candle. I love this idea as it's totally natural, smells awesome, looks pretty and is lots of fun to make. Here's how...
Make A Midgie Candle

I was joined by my clever friends Dylan
& Maisie to help make our midgie candle
You will need:
  • An empty, clean jar
  • Citronella oil
  • Lime
  • Lemon
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Floating candle
To make:

1. Get a nice, clean jar. We used a kilner jar as they are pretty but you could use any jar (just make sure you eat all the jam and clean it out first!)

Carefully add in your slices of fruit
2. Ask a grown up to slice the lemon and lime.
3. Pick some mint and rosemary from your herb garden.

Add in the lovely, smelly herbs!
4. Layer the lemon, lime, mint and rosemary so that you have lots packed into your jar and it looks pretty.
5. Carefully pour the citronella oil over the top.

Have a good sniff - it smells awesome!
6. Add the floating candle (1)
7. Ask a grown up to light your candle and keep the midgies away! (2) 

The pretty midge candle all lit up
Although the candle smells lovely to us, midgies hate the citrus smell so will stay well away. This will be the first thing I pack when I go on holiday!

Hope you manage to avoid being bitten.

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu

1. If you don't have a floating candle you can make your own. Take a tea light and remove it from its metal casing. Underneath you will see a piece of metal which holds the wick in place. Ask a grown up to melt some wax from another candle so that the metal is completely covered and then leave to dry. Your tea light will now float!

2. Always be super careful around candles and never leave them unattended.