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Hi! My husband and I will be travelling to England/Scotland (for the first time) in early June 2017 for several weeks. I've read a few posts in the travel forum regarding Scotland and saw someone mention midges (in relation to the Isle of Skye). Are these like the black flies in the upper Peninsula of Michigan? I remember visiting up there once in May and it was so miserable to be outside. Is this what we can expect from midges in Scotland? Someone mentioned protection against them. What sort? Just long sleeves and pants or are we talking about some sort of spray/netting? Are they also found in England at that time?

We want to spend quite a bit of time outdoors but weren't sure what to expect regarding bugs.

Thanks for your help!!

Posted by
5837 posts

We did a walking holiday in Scotland the second half of May and did not encounter any midges. We brought DEET but didn't need it. Our walk took us through Tyndrum. Here's a interesting view of midges:

Don’t believe a word they tell you. The common Scottish midge, better
known of course as ‘culicoides impunctatus’ (from the Latin –
translates as ‘wee bastards’), is a pretty harmless creature. Well,
the male of the species is. Quite simply the male culicoides
impunctatus does not bite. You have absolutely nothing to worry about.

The female is however an entirely different proposition; the female
does bite and the female is dangerous (sounds familiar, eh, guys).
However, you will be comforted to know the female midge, like it’s
distant (and slightly more dangerous) relative, the tiger, does not
attack for fun. Whilst the tiger kills for food, and sometimes in it’s
own defence (for example if you are frightening it), the female midge
attacks only for your blood. She needs it for her eggs.


Posted by
16905 posts

"MIdge" is kind of generic term for tiny biting and non-biting insects, but the Highland Midge found in Scotland (Culcoides sp.) is a tiny mosquito-like bug. According to Wikipedia, they are only found in northwest Scotland ( so not in England). Like mosquitoes, only the females bite.

We too heard horror stories of clouds of midges in Scotland, particularly in the Highlands. But we were in Scotland in late May, hiking in the Highlands and near Oban, and never saw one. ( And believe me, my husband would know if they were around). We had beautiful clear weather, but it was a little breezy, and wind will keep them at bay.

But maybe we were just lucky.

Posted by
45 posts

As others have said, midges are tiny biting insects that are found in the Scottish Highlands. They are generally at there worst from June through August. Some of the general prevention recommendations I've seen include:

  • Avoid sitting in shady, damp areas.
  • Early morning and late evening tends to be the worst time of the day.
  • Avoid wearing dark clothing; Wear long sleeves/pants.
  • When its really bad wear a hat and cover your head with a midge net.
  • Some popular chemical repellents are Smidge and the Original Avon-Skin-So-Soft (Most pharmacies, grocery stores in the highlands will carry these.)
Posted by
5678 posts

Okay, I have canoed in the UP in June with a broken paddle swatting at black flies. And I've walked many times in the highlands. I would take midges over black flies ANY day of the week! To be honest it's more like mosquitos. So, if you have insect repellent and had long sleeved shirts--its cooler in Scotland than the UP in my opinion--and I did get a midgie hat. It's very similar to the hat that my dad got for his canoe trip in the Quetico. I've probably hiked 40-50 days over several years in the north of Scotland--probably more. And in that time I think I've used the midgie hat a half dozen times. Once was on Harris, once was near Loch Ness, once was in the Cairngorms, and I can't place any other times, but I think that there were some. :)

I think that they are pretty much in Scotland. And again, think mosquitoes--dawn, dusk, still air near water etc.


Posted by
1664 posts

If there are midgies about, in addition to the above advice, is move. Midgies are reluctant to move from their location of choice.

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you for all the helpful information. We'll be prepared, just in case they become an issue. We're so excited to explore Scotland and England!

Posted by
93 posts

They are really dependent on weather and terrain as they like certain 'conditions' more than others; early and late, lack of wind etc. Keep in mind that any netting used to block them probably needs to be finer than regular mosquito netting; long sleeves and pants help; they are also a good preventative if out hiking in conditions that might be tick infested; pick up a Tick Key(for easy/safe removal) if you think you might be in areas that be tick friendly...boggy, tall grass areas for example. Check out for lots of info on Midges and once you get into season they put up a Midge Forecast on their website that gives you an idea of where/when they are heaviest at any given time. They also make a supposedly very user-friendly & effective midge repellent called Smidge. We plan on picking up a bottle at one of the outdoor stores in Edinburgh(Cotswold Outdoor or Tiso) when we arrive before heading out to the highlands in late June.