It was with a frisson of horror that I read this is likely to be a bumper year for midges.
Clegs and wasps are pests, but the Scottish midge is surely the most fearsome of foes. Kill one and three million turn out for the funeral.
In Scotland, the months dubbed summer are characterised by groups of outdoor enthusiasts scratching like dogs against a backdrop of stunning scenery. No outdoor soiree is complete without someone slapping themselves about the head in a bid to kill the beastie. For me, a camping trip to Argyll several years ago left me scarred - literally - after a run-in with a particularly aggressive west coast tribe of midge.
We arrived, like amateurs, at a scenic spot south of Lochgilphead just before dusk, also known as Midge O'clock. While my other half battled to get the tent up, I hopped a rain dance while being savaged by thousands of the blighters.
The place was called Otter Ferry and while he enjoyed the enchanting sight of a solitary otter bobbing about in the calm water, I found refuge inside the tent and refused to come out until morning.
The next day, as the hours passed, my desire to scratch off my own skin grew stronger. I had sustained so many bites that I appeared to develop some kind of allergic reaction. Each bite had swollen to the size of a pea. It was when the "peas" started to join together and fellow walkers began sheilding their children's eyes that I knew I was in trouble. Itching to high heaven, I bowed to the superior power of the midge and headed home.
Now, thanks to a mild winter and a warm, wet spring, experts are predicting this summer will be boom time for midges.
What to do? May I suggest that instead of tinkering with creams and suction machines to keep them at bay, perhaps we should admit defeat, change tack and recruit the hardy midge as our national mascot. After all, the midge possesses all the qualities on which we pride ourselves; tenacity, industriousness and the desire to eat, sorry, treat, every man as equal.
We should harness this natural resource. The energy involved when one midge propels itself towards a naked limb may not be significant, but one trillion midges travelling in the same direction? Surely this could power a small generator.
What about spray-painting them blue and white and teaching them to dance in formation to The Proclaimers as a spectacular Commonwealth Games opener? You read it here first.
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