Thursday, 29 July 2010

Ronaldo adds miggie info

I lamented the fierceness of country midges (called 'miggies' in this part of the world) in September last year, and asked if anyone could tell me why the after-effects of country miggie-bites were so much more dire than those of their city cousins.

Ronaldo (who apparently has a memory like an elephant's) sent me this news snippet this morning, about why some people are bitten by midges and others aren't:

A study found that human attractiveness to the bloodsucking insects is hereditary, and that women have a stronger reaction to the bites than men. It also showed that larger women are more likely to get bitten because they give out more heat, moisture and chemicals that attract midges. Tall men were similarly susceptible because they are most likely to cross the paths of midges, most of which fly at a height of two metres from the ground.

Scientists from Aberdeen University and the Rothamsted Research Institute in Hertfordshire conducted a survey of more than 300 athletes and spectators at a race around the shores of Loch Ness, which is notorious for clouds of midges. They found that some people consistently got bitten more than others, while 14% of people never got bitten at all. Scientists believe that some people are born producing skin chemicals that repel the insects.

'Midges find us through the volatiles coming off our skin and also our breath, our carbon dioxide,' said Professor Jenny Mordue, who led the study. 'We found women's reaction to the bites was worse than men's, but that may be because women are more aware of their skin than men.'

The study, which will be published in the British Medical Council's Public Health Journal next year, dismissed a number of popular methods of repelling midges, such as eating strongly flavoured foods like garlic and onions, which it says have no effect.

This answers some questions - but are all the answers correct? I accept that because I'm both large and tall, I'm more susceptible to miggie bites - but then how does that explain the attractiveness to miggies of my friend Tanya, who is both of medium height and very slight in build?

Also, the statement that women's reactions to the bites is worse than men's because 'women are more aware of their skin than men' is just silly. A man whose miggie bites suppurate, whose eyes swell up and who experiences flu-like symptoms isn't feeling like this because he's any less aware of his skin than a woman.

I do like the idea, however, that some people have inbuilt insect repellants. I'm just sad I'm not one of them.

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1 comment:

ali g said...

1. Tell Tanya to get off your back.... problem solved.

2. Could be the perfect excuse TP is looking for in his current blog..... could say he was jogging along and ran face first into a 'giant' midge which was cruising along at its normal flying height of 2 metres....