MY right forearm is covered in welts. Sorry if that alarmed you, particularly anyone trying to digest this with their Corn Flakes or cheeky wee fry-up.

The welts – possibly too large a word but pretty much merited – under advisement were caused by a tiny creature that affects me in the garden and the woods and the psyche. Ladies and whatever, I speak of … the midge.

Little horrors. This year, where I currently live – a Hebride, I believe they’re called; never looked it up – they came on strong in spring, disappeared in the heat and drought, then reappeared newly strengthened a few weeks ago now.

My welts will last much of the year. Nothing heals quickly on me these days. If you give me a black eye, as so often threatened, it’ll still be disfiguring my coupon a year later.

So I bear the scars. If short-sleeved at the village discotheque – hypothetical situation – people will say: “There goes a man who has suffered. He has fought the wee beastie. And he has lost.”

We fight them with Smidge, the famous spray-on repellent, available in many shops round here. We coat our coupons in Avon Skin Soft, also supposed to work, and I believe these treatments might, but sometimes you forget to slosh them on. Perhaps, on a fine day, you fancy taking the air in the bedraggled Arcadia that is your garden.

Hmm, smell the roses. Mostly, you don’t notice the beasties. Or, certainly, I don’t, distracted as I am by great thoughts. You think it safe. That night, you wake up with your arm itching like mad and grievously scratched where you’ve unconsciously tried easing the discomfort.

That’s my story. Others have it worse. I get it in the arms. I’ve known folk who get it mostly in the face and then can’t go out for ages.

Holidaymakers flee, their wailing children in tow. Midges will attack one person and not another. Once, camping out near Fort William (never recommended), my then girlfriend got bitten to bits while I was left completely alone. Perhaps they dislike beery explosions of wind.

I will now discuss the science an’ that. The highland midge’s Sunday name is Culicoides impunctatus, and you’ll forgive me generically quoting the scientists’ view that “as in human life, it’s the burdz that are the nastiest, ken?”

The bite, like your columnist, is generally described as “a sharp prick”, but I’m so hard from yoga and pilates that I never notice it.

It’s the dampness that makes them favour the Highlands and Islands. Improbably, not only did my Highland garden once have an outdoor swimming pool, it also has a pond. Great idea. The pond has newts and lovely lilies now, so I’m reluctant to remove it. But all the same: sheesh.

Midges dislike a breeze, or certainly anything over 6 mph. They also dislike low humidity and dry, cloudless conditions. Picky much? But they pick their spots, and the Highlands fills their boots.

Rain doesn’t deter them, nor darkness, though they’re at their worst at dusk (and dawn). They won’t follow you into the house if they can help it, but will invade your tent, as exclusively confirmed above.

It says here that cattle, sheep and deer get it in the neck, and other places, even worse than we do. Poor beasties. If only they could talk: “This planet stinks, and we hate our lives and we hate you and we hate the evil god that created all this.” Pretty much the same as you and I say every day.

For all that my pond may be a bordello for these brutes, something else in my garden puts the fear of Dawkins into them: bats. I’ve oodles of these, as well as bees, butterflies and wee birds supposedly in decline (I’m custodian of a haven, if we could keep the cats, deer and hawks out).

Bats prey on midges, and I cheer them on at dusk as they bung themselves aboot with blind precision, occasionally skimming right by my heid.

I wish they also preyed on ticks (provided by the aforementioned deer, I fear). They’re even worse. I’ve picked off half a dozen this year: thundering nuisance and always worrying. Yes, it’s a grand life in the Highlands … if you don’t weaken.

But back to midges. Sneaky, treacherous, vicious, fierce, nasty. How could such a beast thrive in Scotland? Only joking.

Boffins investigate ways of exterminating them, but no solution comes. Every spring, the papers report a rash – feels like the mot juste – of putative cures, usually involving scent, vacuum gizmos and baseball bats. All come to nothing.

We seem to have given up. When I searched online for recent news stories about cures all that came up was something about Midge Ure. His PR team issued a statement insisting he’s no relation of the little monsters.

All you can do is empty vats of lotion over your face and other exposed parts. Between anti-midge treatments, anti-tick lotions (pricey), moisturiser, blusher, rejuvenation cream, lamb afterbirth and nightingale droppings (traditional Chinese treatment), the average chap’s face these days can feel like it weighs a ton.

Another tip is not to wear bright colours. It also says here that they’re attracted to dark colours. You could dress all in white, but you might look like you play cricket or tennis and are morally degenerate. You could also cover yourself from head to toe in netting but, even with no-one around, you’ll feel a right pillock.

Once the damage is done, and your arms look like a leper’s, you might try hydrocortisone cream or an antihistamine to reduce the itching. If you prefer something more natural that doesn’t work, some folk swear by ammonia, tea tree oil, calamine lotion, or aloe vera.

Little brutes are running up a massive bill here. By the time you’ve bought tennis duds, an all-over net, Smidge, Avon, antihistamines, tea tree oil and aloe vera, you’ll have nothing left for your evening bag of chips. Don’t these little swine know there’s a cost of living crisis on?

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