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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
New hope in midge battle
Hill walker BBC
Walkers in Scotland are often targeted by midges
A new device which could help end the misery caused by midges in Scotland is being tested by scientists.

The so-called midge magnet has been designed to clear an area the size of a football pitch of the tiny insects by emitting carbon dioxide to attract them.

A bottled gas company has passed the four-feet by three-feet device, which contains a gas cylinder, to academics at Edinburgh University who will assess whether it can be marketed.

A company spokesman said the research will take around 12 months and the device may be in shops by next summer.

Midge BBC
Midge bites leave an itchy rash

He said: "Midges are attracted by carbon dioxide and that is why they target humans.

"The magnet gives off carbon dioxide and draws in the midges and then kills them with a repellent.

"We know how big a problem midges are in the west of Scotland and we are cautiously optimistic that the tests will be successful."

The device employs technology that is already used in the tropics to combat mosquitoes.

There are 37 different types of midge in Scotland, five of which bite humans after being attracted by the carbon dioxide breathed out by people.

A study by Edinburgh University's Dr Alison Blackwell found midges cost the Scottish tourist industry 286m with 86% of first-time visitors saying they would advise their friends not to travel here in July or August, the height of the midge season.

See also:

08 Sep 01 | Scotland
In a sweat over midges
30 Aug 01 | Health
Bites of mystery fly closes park
02 Feb 01 | Health
Bee sting test could save lives
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