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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Tourism drive over midge numbers
Culicoides impuntatus - the female midge. Image supplied by Dr Damien Nolan - University of Aberdeen
Midges can be the scourge of holidaymakers
Tourist boards on the east coast of Scotland are encouraging visitors with the message that the area does not suffer from the dreaded midge.

Aberdeen and Grampian Highlands, Angus and Dundee, and Fife tourist boards have launched the 'Other Side of Scotland' initiative.

They are encouraging tourists to choose the east instead of the west coast.

Fife Tourist Board's Neil Macfarlane said visitors were "less likely to be eaten alive" during their holidays.

About 50,000 flyers will be mailed to addresses throughout Scotland and northern England during the campaign.

Just ask the midges
Neil Macfarlane
Fife Tourist Board
Mr Macfarlane, who is leading the project, said the east coast was often overlooked by tourists visiting Scotland.

"The east coast is beautiful and packed with outdoor activities, so the news that visitors are less likely to be eaten alive by midges is one of the many advantages we are looking to promote," he said.

"Just ask the midges. We are drier and enjoy more sunshine on the east coast than in the west.

'Midge attacks'

"We are obviously delighted overseas visitors are flocking to Scotland and tourism is buzzing, but we hope to let as many people as possible know there is an option other than the tried and tested jaunts to the Western Highlands."

The tourist boards aim to promote the east coast's beaches, golf courses, fishing villages and seafood, he added.

Favourite habitat is wet and uncultivated land
Commonly found in the north and west of Scotland
It is the female midge that bites
She can only lay eggs after a blood meal
The bite causes a swelling accompanied by itching
Midges are most prevalent between June and the end of August
Midge expert Professor Jenny Mordue, from Aberdeen University, said: "Visitors are less likely to suffer midge attacks on the east coast due to the drier weather conditions.

"To thrive, the Scottish biting midge needs yearly rainfall higher than 120cm and wet acid grassland soils with high organic content, as is found in most of the Highlands and islands of Scotland."

Less ferocious midges, like the farmyard and garden midge are found on the east coast, but not in large numbers, Prof Mordue added.

"So you are much less likely to get bitten on the eastern side of Scotland, unless you are perhaps in your garden on a damp, still evening."

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