The great outdoors is a dangerous place, and the bluffer should be aware of this. Sometimes the countryside doesn’t like you traipsing all over it, and it bites back. Your attackers include the following:
Unlike other bloodsuckers, which stick thin needles in you and suck out your life-source, horseflies rip your flesh apart and then have a feast. This is why horsefly ‘bites’ are more painful than others. The females are the ones you have to watch out for because they do the feasting. However, it is a rare bluffer who can identify the gender of a horsefly.
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The Scottish Highland midge is one of the fiercest of the 40 or so species of biting midge. They are attracted by the carbon dioxide that humans breathe out. With a wingspan of less than 2mm they don’t take huge chunks out of hikers’ arms, but the bite is enough to cause itching and swelling for several days.
Midges prefer gang warfare. You will rarely be bitten only once and are more likely to be attacked by an entire squadron. Global warming is encouraging these annoying biters to invade other areas of the UK, including the Lake District and North Wales. There are four steps to avoiding midges:
1. Learn to love the DEET invisible cloak. Most midge repellents use this chemical because it blocks the insect’s ability to detect you. It’s like wearing the Harry Potter invisible cloak, without being invisible.
2. Buy a midge hat with netting that covers your face – ideal for hikers who like the funereal look. Ensure that you don’t trap a midge in there with you though.
3. Seek out the Midge Forecast, often published in Scottish newspapers, or download the Midge Forecast app for your smartphone.
4. Stop breathing out.
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