Bog-myrtle to scotch midges

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The Independent Online
LEAVES from a common plant could provide the solution to a persistent summer pest - the Scottish midge.

Researchers have found that bog-myrtle, common throughout northern Scotland, yields oil which can act as a natural insect repellent. A pounds 50,000 project is to be launched on the Isle of Skye, where a pilot extraction plant has already been set up.

The Efamol company, which makes evening primrose oil products on the island of Lewis, said bog-myrtle needs no artificial fertiliser and improves the condition of the land it grows on.

Ultimately it could be cultivated in plantations, earning cash for crofters, the company said.

The idea came from Angus Stuart, a pathology professor who retired to his native Skye. He set up a laboratory at home and noticed that midges avoided areas where bog-myrtle grew.

Leading article, page 13