Watch out there's a midge about - Scottish paper launches 'midge watch' service.

The Aberdeen-based regional morning the Press and Journal this week
launched what it claims to be the UK media's first "midge watch"
service.

A daily forecast warns readers of the chances of
being attacked by the notorious biting midges which are said to cost
the Scottish Highlands and Islands economy hundreds of millions of
pounds a year in lost revenue from tourists.

The forecasts
rate Scotland on a five-point scale each day – from one indicating when
midges are a negligible threat to five where they are likely to be a
serious nuisance.

The forecasts were developed by Edinburgh
University-based firm Advanced Pest Solutions, headed by Dr Alison
Blackwell, who has spent 15 years reseraching and developing ideas to
control the dreaded insects.

Blackwell said: "The forecasts
will be useful to holiday makers so they can prepare for the day ahead.
We¹re not trying to tell people to avoid areas in Scotland, we¹re just
trying to make it easier to cope with pests.

"If you went to a
hot country you would want to know how bad the mosquitoes were wouldn't
you?" Midges are sensitive to weather conditions so Alison's team looks
at weather patterns and combines the data with information about the
midge's life cycle, collected by using Calor gas-powered traps
throughout Scotland to suck in and bag the midges. By applying a
complex formula, it can predict midge conditions.

The Press
and Journal,
serves a
huge circulation area in north and east Scotland, including the
Highlands heartland of highest midge activity.

Editor Derek Tucker
said: "Anyone who has spent a summer's evening in the Highlands will
know only too well the little blighters' determination to penetrate
almost every physical and chemical barrier to bite those venturing
outdoors."

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