Thursday, 14 August 2014

Kielder - Midge Free Zone

I recently returned from Kielder in the North of the Hexham Constituency. When I told friends that I was spending a few days up there the reply was, "Watch out for those midges," or "Make sure you pack insect repellent," and while it is true that at this time of year when the air is still and damp, swarms of the little biters can be seen, it should not put you off visiting one of the best destinations for both relaxing and outdoor activities in the whole of the UK.

The group that runs the community-owned Kielder Campsite have decided to take matters into their own hands and try and reduce the number of midges. There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Chemical sprays.
  • Reducing the amount of standing water.
  • Encouraging predators such a trout fry.

At Kielder they have chosen a high-tech approach; installing midge traps. These have flashing green, blue and white LEDs, a small fan to draw the midges in and then a water trap, which drowns them.

The science behind the traps is quite interesting with the light designed to be most attractive to midges looking for a mate. The water needs to have no surface tension that would save the insects from their fate, and no chemicals such as chloride or fluoride ions to put them off. At Kielder they have discovered that dissolving demerara sugar in rain water seems to do the trick.

Each unit is effective over one hectare and there are three on site. A significant reduction in the midge population is expected over the next year with the result that sitting outside on warm summer evenings at Kielder is likely to be a lot more comfortable.

Kielder is much quieter than other Northern England tourist destinations such as the Peak District and particularly the Lakes. This is great for people who have discovered the North of Northumberland, but tourism brings benefits and should be encouraged. Come to Kielder, enjoy the dark night skies and the long warm days and don't worry about the midges!

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