It’s hard to believe when you live somewhere as beautiful as this, but there can be drawbacks to living in the west Highlands of Scotland. Say hello to the Scottish midge, our very own small biting insect. During the summer, in the wrong conditions (no wind and damp) and at the wrong time of day (early morning and evening) they come out to munch on the unwary traveller or local.
The Scots are used to it, but for those unused to the phenomenon it can be a nuisance, to say the least, to fight your way through the midge cloud. A breath of wind or bright sunshine will disperse these mini vampires, but as hostel owners we owe our guests something more than relying on chance.
Enter the Predator Midgeater. The newest arrival to our staff, affectionately known by us as Van Helsing, is now in place and at work 24 hours a day. It works by attracting the midges to what they think is a perspiring victim. A mixture of CO2 and a substitute for human sweat draws them in. They then either get sucked into a water trap or stuck on hi-tech sticky paper. By all accounts a Midgeater picks up kilos worth of its prey over the course of a summer season.
For us, it’s early days yet but already we are totting up an impressive catch. Each midge it eats is one more attracted away from the hostel. As we build up our haul we will recycle them by feeding them to our vibrant local bird population (the subject of a blog to come).
So let’s raise a glass to Van Helsing, our untiring, sleepless protector.