Luckily I’m neither tall or (very) fat

An adult midge sucking up...er...blood

I noticed today that the Independent is reporting that tall fat people are more likely to be bitten by midges.

Midges – technically they belong to the family Ceratopogonidae (ke-ra-to-pogon-idee) – are the tiny 2 mm long blighters that drive you mad in Scotland.

They live in damp boggy soils and also in ponds, lakes and rivers.

The larvae are very distinctive – about a centimetre long, very thin, with a distinctive way of swimming. There are usually a few in my ponds in the garden.

A ceratopogonid midge larva - you can see these in lots of garden ponds. The tiny head is on the left.

But the adult midges are never, in my experience, a problem in the garden when it comes to biting – there just aren’t enough of them, although I guess if your garden is in the middle of the Scottish Highlands it might be a different story.

Ironically at home in Abingdon we’re more likely to be bitten in the garden by blackflies which have flown at least 250 m from the nearest stream to get to our house. Blackflies in this context are not like greenfly but members of the family Simuliidae, a family of biting flies which have larvae that depend entirely on running water. So they’ve made a fair old trek for a little fly to get to our garden. Why do they do it!

I have a bit of a hate-hate relationship with blackflies, not because there’a anything specially bad about them (in this country they’re only after a bit of blood after all, though in some part of the tropics they are a much more serious health issue)…….but because I spent 4 years doing a PhD on them!

And this was definitely the most psychologically gruelling period of my life!

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