A Million Little Bastards

I think I’m fitted with 12-month goldfish memory when it comes to the Highlands. When the days get long and our neighbours turn an alarming shade of terracotta, once more my thoughts turn to soaring mountains, campfires and snuggly sleeping bags. Twelve months is long enough to think that camping is a great idea. Twelve months is long enough to erase the memory of the most evil of all insects – the Scottish midge.

On Friday night we packed up the tent and the veggie sausages and headed back to Glen Etive. The weather forecast was good, with no chance of our campsite being turned into an island by torrential rain like last year. The sun was shining when we arrived and chose an extremely stunning spot.

Glen Etive

Miraculously we managed to get the tent up before the midges arrived in a black cloud. I’d stuuupidly left my trusty Avon Skin-So-Soft repellent at home, but I thought I’d be okay with my gloves, long sleeves and had my jeans tucked into my socks. Best of all we both had these sexy new midge hats. Sure we looked like beekeepers in mourning, and we could barely see each other or the gorgeous scenery. But at least the bugs couldn’t crawl up our nostrils or eat our faces.


Yet the midges were determined to ruin any enjoyment of our night. I’d never seen such a relentless swarm. You may be thinking, how can something so small cause such angst? I am telling you, they are truly the most maddening creatures on earth. We tried going for a walk, but they just followed. I tried to read a book, but the pages were soon smudged with tiny corpses. We tried to make tea, but as soon as we poured it they kamikazied into the cups. We fished them out, but whenever I dared venture from beneath my mesh hat to take a sip, they’d swoop down on my hands. I could feel them dive under the gloves to gnaw on my wrists.

You can see/hear the carnage for yourself in this stunning video that I made. Warning: video contains the word BASTARDS.

In the end insanity forced us into the tent. We zipped the door then spent five minutes swearing and slapping at all the midges that followed us, smearing them over the tent walls and over each other while screaming, “I WILL NEVER CAMP AGAIN!”

Despite all my protection, the little bastards managed to get me. Big time. Even worse than last year. My face may have been spared, but they squeezed past my socks and chomped their way around my ankles. And in my desperate scramble to get into the tent, my top must have got seperated from my jeans, so the midges nibbled a neat row all the way across my back. I am wearing a MIDGE BELT, people.

It’s made worse by my severe reaction. Some people get tiny red dots that disappears after a few hours, but I get giant, red, swollen, festering insanely itchy sores the size of dimes. Speckled on my wrists. Tattooed right around each ankle. Circumnavigating my waist. And as a very special bonus, there’s three bites forming an angry red arrow right above my BUTT CRACK.

I will spare you a photograph of my rear end, but you can witness the hideousness of my right ankle here from two different (but equally repulsive) angles.

I’m so freaking itchy right now I am ready to bite my feet off. My skin feels like it’s on fire. I look like a leper. I’m never going outside again. Not without a full space suit, anyway. Same time next year?

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for October 2021.

40 thoughts on “A Million Little Bastards

  1. btw my voice is not really SO BLOODY DEEP as it appears in the video. i think i thought if i spoke quite and low, the midges might not notice us.

  2. Never tried camping in Scotland whilst I was there – glad I didn’t now!

    You look like you are allergic to the bites – they must be driving you nuts. An anti-histamine would help reduce the swelling and take the edge off the itch. As someone with chronic hives, I find Zyrtec the most effective, most of the other brands are pretty useless.

    Hope you’re feeling better soon enough πŸ™‚

  3. Ach they are harmless enough, it’s only a few wee bites..


    And yes, I agree with lizz, very cute “grr”!

  4. I have the same allergice reactions. Zyrtec against the itching (but it makes me sleepy!!

    Hope they disappear fast!


  5. Hi DG

    Until they happen to you, you can’t believe how bad midges can be. We had a midge atttack lite on Saturday evening but luckily for us it was only a localised episode. We were watching friends undertaking a major mountain bike challenge up a steep bugger of a hill. Needless to say, given the choice of supporting our friends and being eaten alive or giving up and hearing how they did later, we compromised by watching one attempt and then gave up and repaired to the pub!!

    Viewing their midge welts later from the pub, I think I made the right choice. If it’s any consolation, one of them looks as badly knawed as your “festering ankle of doom”.

    Keep up the good work.

    Lesley x

  6. ouch!

    I never got the bad reaction to the Midge, but I just got back from Sweden and am bedecked with 2 inch wide weeping sores from the mosquitoes there.

    Not so little bastards

  7. oh, that made me laugh so.

    Firstly that the little campsite clip looked like the opening scenes of a film in which a serial killer checks out his prey, and then the storyline is given a twist when the killer turns out to be midge-beasts…

    and the voiceover…gorgeous.

    Sheer viewing pleasure.

  8. I am fair skinned and react the same way you do… and I live in Alabama, home of mosquitos the size of helicopters! I gave up a long time ago… my ankles stay polka-dotted – 3D puffy dots during the summer, and flat, light pink leftover scar dots in the winter! I did find this stuff this spring and it seems to help… I have been chewed on much less since I’ve started using it… maybe it will work on midges too… give it a try! Its a patch that works on your whole body for 36 hours. It smells kind of stinky, like sticking your nose in a bottle of vitimins, but its works for me.


  9. Oh, and why do these evil little monsters have such a cute name? Midge… I had a Midge doll when I was a kid, but it was a little girl, not an evil blood-sucking insect!

  10. I get massive, red, sore, itchy bumps. The midges always go for my face. The bite I got over a month ago is STILL itchy.

    I feel your pain.

  11. Forget Avon products, go with DEET. The stuff will probably give you cancer in your later years, but at least you’ll avoid having half your blood sucked out by mosquitos and other hellish insects. My wife has sensitive skin like yours, so I sympathize with your plight. Hopefully the beautiful Scottish scenery was worth the trouble?

  12. oh yes George, it’s always worth the trouble. Sorta πŸ™‚

    funny that it only seems that women get these severe reactions! and even funnier that it’s the female midge that does the biting. why can’t women BE KIND TO EACH OTHER!?!

  13. I, too, am from Alabama, where mosquitoes just drive us CRAZY! So, I feel your pain. Greatly.

    Slightly unrelated, my ex-boyfriend’s nickname is Widgett. He went by Widge, also. The first time my uncle met him, he said something along the line of “So, you’re name is Midge? Is that sort of like a skeeter?” And that’s how he became known as Skeeter among my family. =)

  14. I, too, am from Alabama, where mosquitoes just drive us CRAZY! So, I feel your pain. Greatly.

    Slightly unrelated, my ex-boyfriend’s nickname is Widgett. He went by Widge, also. The first time my uncle met him, he said something along the line of “So, you’re name is Midge? Is that sort of like a skeeter?” And that’s how he became known as Skeeter among my family. =)

  15. I, too, am from Alabama, where mosquitoes just drive us CRAZY! So, I feel your pain. Greatly.

    Slightly unrelated, my ex-boyfriend’s nickname is Widgett. He went by Widge, also. The first time my uncle met him, he said something along the line of “So, you’re name is Midge? Is that sort of like a skeeter?” And that’s how he became known as Skeeter among my family. =)

  16. Hey – try vinegar on your midge bites. That’s what we use here when they are super bad, if we don’t have an after-bite. It takes the stinging sensation away.

    Also, your voice sounds like mine! Weird! And I always say, “Grrrrrrrr”. Spooky!

    Good luck with the bites…. I have a few on my ankles too…. we have mosquitos bad here but I hate deerfly, horsefly and blackfly bites worse! Deerflies and horseflies actually take CHUNKS out of your skin! And blackflies? Leave big black marks all over you!

    BTW, totally dig Dr. G’s scottish accent… I miss it so much πŸ™‚

  17. I think we get such awful bug reactions because we grew up in countries with different bugs. Zimbabwe has huge fecking mozzies, but the ones here make me get those big welts too. Go figure. I agree with the vinegar advice, or even better – meths. Yes, meths!

  18. Hee… on the plus side, you’ve got lovely slim ankles! One has to look at the positives in such a situation.

    And if it makes you feel any better, I once got bitten by a white-tail spider on my shoulder. Now that was nasty. Nothing like a 2 inch wide supparating wound to make the boys come a-running!


  19. Pleasing to see that someone from Australia, where all the wildlife seems to be poisonous, killer, mental, or odd, can find the fearsome Scottish midge such a terror. Sort of makes me feel that perhaps the Australian Fauna might not be as evil. Koalas probably aren’t poisonous.

    I have often wondered, having seen Mr Attenborough go to far distant lands to look at and speak in a whisper at, dangerous beasts, how he would manage with the midge. I would like to see him on a Scottish hill doing a midge report likes yours:
    ‘and so here we are, in the very heart of Scottish midge land, and I find myself literally surrounded by the wee bastards. Buzzing annoyingly around my head, not unlike black and white striped flying monkies, I think one can’t help, when surrounded by the splendour that is their natural habitat, but want to purchase a flame-thrower and render the nyaffing wee buggers extinct…’ I don’t think it would be possible to report on them in any other way…

  20. Wow, you never see those clouds of midges on bonnet dramas set in the Scottish countryside. We have just got back from Darwin and used baby oil when we were somewhere with lots of sand flies – it worked really well. Had sandals on and everything and got just the one bite. It might be easier to obtain than skin-so-soft. You see, I’m presuming in 12 months you’ll have forgotten this incident sufficiently to give it all another go.

  21. Shit. That really IS a cloud of them.

    Are they worse the mozzie bites?

    Poor dear.

    (But how much do I love G’s accent? I’m such an Aussie nerd.)

  22. I wondered why the beautiful Scottish countryside was so deserted, now I know…………..

  23. Yes, that “grr” was so wonderfully unfierce. Poor leg! Yes, Zirtek is good (isn’t that how it’s spelt? Maybe not(.

  24. Sorry about the cryptic backwards bracket there. Typo, not secret code.

    Like the Latin title to your previous post, by the way. Your teachers would be proud of you.

  25. I’ve heard (although not tested – I haven’t been anywhere to be bitten) that toothpaste is good for dealing with those reactions (in the absence of something better).

    I’m not sure if that only applies to right after being bitten or what but a friend tried it and it worked.

    Obviously, you might only want to experiment on a small spot πŸ˜‰

    You have a voice too!!!! πŸ˜‰

    Scott F πŸ™‚

  26. Holy crap! That’s a lot of tiny little insects!! I had no idea…

    p.s. I remember the midges from last year and I just read about ’em. Rather astounding that you – the victim – forgot, eh? πŸ˜‰

  27. Tag!

    Hi, I enjoy reading your blog and have been challenged to “tag” 8 other bloggers and ask them to divulge 8 facts about themselveson their own blog.

    Here’s my blog: http://www.wishtosee.com/archives/2007/07/tagged.htm

    Here are the rules:
    1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
    2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
    3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
    4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
    5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


    P.S. Please feel free to ignore πŸ™‚

  28. oh lordy… see every year I have a nice idea in my head about a lovely Highland hol… I#’ll stop dreaming.

  29. Truly, your midges and my “black flies” here in Maine are one in the same. Only thing that even remotely repels them is 100% DEET applied to cotton outer clothing and wearing tight-fitting collars and cuffs, wearing pants and shirts tucked in and avoiding moving water – they need moving water for the larval stage, so that is where the concentration will be highest after a hatch.

    That means you set up camp atop a hillside, away from the water, where there is a constant breeze. That means you reapply your DEET three times a day. You can use your Skin-So-Soft on exposed skin, but there best be very little of that.

    Finally, I suggest you both take up pipe smoking and keep the Meerschaum well-fired for the duration. Also, try your outdoor camping in September — there is far fewer of the nasty buggers out then.

    Ain’t camping fun?

  30. I am de-lurking to say that you need mosquito pants! Little bitey bastards loooove me, and so I own and proudly wear the ever-fashionable pants made out of mosquito netting. I bought mine many years ago from REI, but any good outdoors store should have them.

  31. I feel your pain … I just got back from a trip to Loch Lomond, I made the fatal error of standing by the shore while I made a quick phone call. must’ve been there less than 2 minutes before escaping inside again, the little buggers have eaten me alive! 12 bites on my phone hand, another dozen or more on that side of my neck, a circle of bites outlining the straps of my walking sandals, miscellaneous others dotted around, they’ve even bitten along the parting in my hair, for goodness sake! I have one in my ear that’s now weeping copiously … I dread to think how much worse it would have been if I hadn’t had long sleeves and long trousers with attractive(?) elasticated bottoms …

    Apparently they hate quinine and drinking lots of tonic water helps stop them biting. Could be something in that, I never got bitten in my tonic-swilling days …

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