Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Helping to Keep the Midge Population Down

The hot weather is great and even in the high Pennines it feels like summer. On Sunday I stupidly got my legs burned during a walk onto the summit of Cross Fell - yep that's true, it has actually been possible to wear shorts on Cross Fell and not freeze to death.

The only slight fly in the ointment as it were, are the midges, mosquitoes and cleg-flies (Horse-fly) that seem to have survived the winter unscathed.

08-1177 Female Mosquito Culiseta Annulata Drawing Blood

03-4089 Macro Closeup of a Cleg-Fly Haematopota pluvialis Showing Eye Colour
Cleg-Fly Haematopota pluvialis (Horse-fly) beautiful eyes but they do hurt when they bite

Of course it is not all bad news and insect eating birds are doing pretty well out of it and despite, or perhaps even because of the hard winter and late spring some of the flora also appears to be doing very well.

I spotted these Round Leaved Sundew, (Drosera rotundifolia) near Cow Green reservoir yesterday and it looks like they have been doing their bit to keep the midge population down.

06D-9881b Round Leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia with Trapped Insects Upper Teesdale County Durham UK
Round Leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia with trapped midges

These tiny carnivorous plants can be found in boggy areas with acidic soil and use a sticky substance to trap any insects that touch them. Once trapped the insects slowly dissolve and provide the nutrients the plants need.

06D-9849a Round Leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia with Trapped Insects Upper Teesdale County Durham UK
Unlucky ant

These Sundews have not flowered yet so it will be a good excuse to head back up there to get some more pics and video of this part of the life cycle as well.

Note pics 1&2 are from my photo library not from the day.

All images/text copyright David Forster please do not use without written permision.


  1. I was mobbed by clegs on Scout Hill near home recently. We've even had a few in the garden. Still - I'll settle for that if we can keep this weather!

  2. Me too, mind you if they get much worse I would probably change my mind. Unlike midges, clegs seem to be able to handle a strong breeze and have been hard to get away from this morning. I wonder if they are put off by Avon products like midges are?

  3. Hi David. I've always known horse flies as clegs. Is that another local name or is it more widespread?
    I've just been up Place Fell and there were swarms of large flies which I thought at first were clegs, but their legs were longer and the didn't bite. They were still very irritating, mind. Any idea of what they might have been?
    By the way, I shall be careful not to camp on a patch of those carnivorous plants.
    Cheers, Alen

    1. The name Cleg seems to be pretty widespread throughout the UK as far as I can tell. Not sure how they get that name though.

      If the flies bothering you were black with dangly legs they may be either St Marks flies, or possibly Fever flies (dilophus febrilis). They can be irritating in that they get in your face and crawl about on you but do not bite.

      Camping on carnivorous plants could be a rather sticky situation.

      I will pop over and have a read of your Place Fell trip as soon as I get sorted.
      Cheers, David