Wednesday, 9 September 2009

No-see-ums... but SO-feel-ums

When I lived in the city, midges took one form, in my experience: tiny, deeply annoying insects that flew into your open mouth while you were doing your morning run (when once you partook of such outlandish activities) and lodged round about your uvula, causing you to stop, hunched over, hands on knees, hawking and spitting so alarmingly that passing motorists screeched to a halt and kindly offered to call emergency services.

In the country, midges are different. They are, like in the city, practically invisible; but here the little bastards bite. Not that you feel them when they do: they’re called ‘No-see-ums’ in North America, apparently, for this very reason.

But good god do you feel the effects!

I knew nothing of biting midges when I first moved to this small country town nine years ago. So once, when I was sweeping my pool and my neighbour came around for a chat, and, after observing a cloud of the little buggers around my head for a few minutes, said, ‘I’m sorry, I just can’t watch this,’ I didn’t know what he meant. Until the next morning, when I woke up entirely transformed into something festooned with weeping sores, with puffy cheeks and leaking eyes, and very very sorry for itself.

I’m not alone in this: miggie fever grips a few sad members of our community for a few months each year, transforming them from relatively ordinary human beings into twitching, scratching, suppurating, terribly tired aliens.

Does anyone out there know why country midges differ so intensely from their city cousins? My friend T (who suffers as I do – and ‘suffer’ isn’t a word I use lightly for the fallout from these bites: symptoms range from a flu-like feeling to deep muscle aches and utter exhaustion that can go on for days at a time) suspects it may have something to do with the chemicals used in crop-spraying in these parts, and I have to wonder if she has a point.

Any ideas?

Click here for more about biting midges.

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1 comment:

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