There's a buzz in the air, a bothersome hum as we gallop into the heart of summer. An unignorable, unwavering invasion of pesky insects, largely unnoticed until you find yourself in a swarm of...midges! The question on everyone's lips is - "Are there really more midges this year in the UK?"

Unveiling the Midge Mystery

Delving into this midge madness is no other than Dr. Alison Blackwell, an expert entomologist who’s been studying this tiny terror since her post-doctorate days. Today, she's the brain behind APS Biocontrol, a company that innovated the insect repellent Smidge. So, let's separate fact from fiction with her findings.

It’s All About Climate

As per Dr. Blackwell, the seemingly rampant increase in midge activity could be attributed to the recent weather patterns. Warm and damp conditions are simply midge paradise; cozy temperatures above 15°C and high humidity levels make it an ideal breeding ground for midges. Moreover, midge activities often fluctuate with local weather and geography, explaining the variations in their spatial distribution.

Midges—More Than Meets the Eye

Midges aren't just about the annoying buzz and itchy bites. These tiny creatures have significant roles in the ecosystem, serving as a critical food source for birds, bats, and various insects. They even aid in decomposing organic matter, thereby recycling nutrients in the environment. Suddenly, our minuscule nemeses don't seem all that bad, do they?

The Dark Side of Midges

However, let's not to be too quick to redeem these seemingly benign buzzers. Midges, in particular, can post serious health risks to animals, such as transmitting the Bluetongue virus, which can spell disaster for the health of animals, including horses.

Battling the Midge Menace

So how does one protect prized equines from these relentless raiders? According to Dr. Blackwell, turning towards repellents like Smidge could be your first defense line. Supplement this with additional precautions such as wearing long sleeves and trousers, along with regular application of repellent on exposed skin. This vigilance could keep both you and your four-legged friends from falling prey to these persistent pests.

The Final Buzz

While the heightened midge activity this year could be attributed to the perfect storm of weather conditions, it doesn't necessarily mean an actual surge in their population. Understanding these factors and employing protective measures can help horse owners and riders skillfully navigate through this 'midge madness'. So, saddle up, bring out the bug spray and let's ride out this storm together!

Note: References for this article were retrieved from Horse & Hound.