Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

More lore on the dreaded midge – chase them with lemon eucalyptus plants

Crazy midgeOver the past few years, one thing appears to have become confirmed about entomologists and the humble midge – there’s not much point in listening to the entomologists!

In the past they’ve waffled about extremely cold winters having no effect on them and their numbers, and of various years being likely to see greater or lesser number of the little b pests.

This year was no exception, and I had resigned myself to a miserable year as they predicted bumper numbers would be flying around.

Far from being a bumper year, this year turned out to be the best I’ve experienced for some considerable time – with ‘best’ meaning the least number of them seen and biting.

For some reason, in recent years I seem to have become particularly attractive to them, and during August begin to look as if I am infested with lice (having seen some pics of such an infestation, and even been accused of the same!) I’ve tried various repellents over the years, and this year decided to invest in some ridiculously expensive potions in expectation of intensive attacks. It’s not the bites that cause the problem, but the days of itching that seem to follow, and if there are a lot, then they accumulate as it takes them almost a week to dissipate, and they stay itching for most of that time. I’ve tried counting, but give up after 30-70.

I’ve tried various specialist creams, lotions, and potions intended to calm down the itch, and anti-histamines, but while these seemed to work one year, when I tried using them the following year was disappointed to find that I seemed to have become immune to them – and the irritation and itching just seemed to ignore them.

There was one new story in the media this year – and it might be worth more than those prepared by ‘experts’.

It related to the apparently successful repelling of midge infestation at Barrhill station:

GARDENERS are claiming 
victory with a new weapon against the midge – pungent lemon-scented shrubs.

Volunteers who look after railway station flower displays said they had banished the menace from a platform waiting shelter using eucalyptus plants.

The success has prompted calls for the experiment to be repeated at other midge-infested locations on the west coast of Scotland.

Louis Wall, a volunteer gardener who helps to maintain displays at stations in south-west Scotland, hit upon the solution when asked to tackle a midge blackspot at Barrhill station, on the Glasgow-Stranraer line in South Ayrshire.

Wall said the infestation was so bad it had caused lights in the shelter to stop working
because of midges homing in on fluorescent tubes and wiring. He said this had forced ScotRail to send engineers on 100-mile round trips from Glasgow every fortnight to fix the lights and clear hordes of dead midges covering them.

Wall said the insects had been driven away by the lemon smell emitted by the lemon eucalyptus plants – Eucalyptus citriodora. He said he had put six plants together in the shelter to ensure they produced a powerful enough aroma.

More info can be found here:

Midges railroaded by lemon-scented shrubs – Scotland – Scotsman.com

It’s odd, as I have visited Barrhill station a few times in the past. Not for the station, but to locate an ROC nuclear fallout monitoring post.

It would seem to be fortunate that I did not visit during midge months, in fact, my visits were at fairly miserable times of years, and I seem to recall it was usually wet, which did not help my search.

It took a few visits to locate the post, as the directions to these sites are not usually exact, or even accurate, since the locations were fixed in days long before GPS could pinpoint a spot. I did locate the post on one visit, visible from the station with the help of binoculars, but I never managed to take a close look, being short of time on the day, and then never getting a chance to go back.

I can’t really recall the station very well, or any displays of flowers, but again, that might have been the time of year – I do recall that there didn’t seem to be anybody there though, or any passengers – or trains – so the service can’t be very frequent.

Maybe I’ll manage a return trip one day.

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October 12, 2012 - Posted by | Civilian | , ,

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