It may seem like an unlikely candidate for a cultural reappraisal, but one of Scotland’s biggest conservation charities has said no insect deserves one more than the dreaded midge.
A National Trust for Scotland ranger, based at one of the country’s most notorious midge havens, has highlighted the important role the blood-sucking blighters play in the food chain.
Rule Anderson has even said he has his fingers crossed for a summer full of them at Kintail, West Affric and the Falls of Glomach.
He said: “At no bigger than 1mm to 2mm, these teensy insects could go unseen if it wasn’t for their swarming.
“They swarm in their millions and provide an important food supply for spiders, fish, other predatory insects, pipistrelle bats and birds such as swallows.
“Plants also benefit from midge season with species like the insectivorous sundew and butterwort trapping the insect inside with their sticky glands and leaves, which allows them to decompose and provide nutrients for the plants.”
As all hikers and campers in Scotland know, the summer is when midges are in season, and the females – the ones that bite you – arrive this month.
However, an excessively rainy or windy season could spell disaster for the insects – and for all the animals and plants that rely on them as a source of food.
Mr Anderson added: “Cold weather keeps midges at bay and they don’t take flight during heavy rain or wind, meaning that when we have prolonged spells of bad weather – there can be a disastrous consequence on the species that heavily rely on them.
“I’m as wary of the dreaded midge as the next person – but for the sake of our wildlife, I’ll have my midge hood to hand, in the hope that this summer is a buzzing one.”