De Vere tackles Scots midge menace

19 July 2004
De Vere tackles Scots midge menace
They are the bane of all tourists to the west of Scotland at this time of year - and hotel chain De Vere is rolling up its sleeves to tackle midges at its £50m time-share resort on the banks of Loch Lomond. The chain has hired midge and biting insect specialist Dr Alison Blackwell to help eradicate the pests at its The Carrick at Cameron House golf and leisure resort. It commissioned Dr Blackwell and her team to undertake a £25,000 survey of the resort, taking 500 soil samples between March and April to locate the main midge breeding grounds. Having identified the midge "hot spots", the company then set up special midge trappers from pest control firm MidMos Solutions, which it hopes will substantially reduce the problem over the next two years. "The new machines will not affect the ecological balance of the site and we're only looking at very localised management, which will involve a very small proportion of the midge population in the area," said Dr Blackwell. While the traps wouldn't solve the problem alone, it would be combined with an education programme to make people more aware of the problem and what they could do about it, she added. In the meantime, the company has drawn up a "top 10" of midge facts: - There are more than 1,000 species in the world and about 40 in Scotland - Only the female midge feeds off blood, which is required to mature her eggs - Male midges survive on plant sugars - In Scotland, more than 90% of the biting attacks are down to a single species - culiocides impunctatus - The female midge uses about 500 different sensory hairs on her antennae to locate a host by smell - In Scotland, there are two generations of midges between May and September, but in warmer areas of the world, there can be many more - Midge larvae live in a variety of habitats rich in organic matter, from peat bogs in Scotland to decaying fruit in the Caribbean - A single female can lay more than 200 eggs in her lifetime - Ecologically, adult midges form a minor part of the diet of some species of bat and bird and the larvae help break down decaying organic matter - Midges don't transmit any diseases in the UK but in other areas of the world they are important insects in transmitting some serious livestock pathogens by Nic Paton
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