Jonathan: Over recent weeks the long spell of warm dry weather has progressively reverted to the more typical pattern of sunshine and showers; but the lack of wind has resulted in the worst midges since we first came to Uist in 2002. Compared to the west coast of the mainland, midges here are rarely a problem, except perhaps for those that live on the more sheltered east side, with its acid soils and stands of bracken. However the midge problem is nothing more than an annoyance compared to what a sheep suffers if attacked by blowflies. These little nasties actually look quite nice, a bit like a bluebottle but smaller, quieter, and the irradescent sheen on their bodies is green instead of blue. They have an uncanny knack for picking out a sheep that is weak or injured – perhaps it’s the smell of scour (diaorhea) or an open wound, and having settled on an area along the sheep’s back just ahead of the sheep’s tail, it lays eggs against the skin. From the eggs hatch maggots that burrow into the sheep’s skin and start to eat the animal alive … … This weakens the sheep further, and what the shepherd will notice first is a listless animal, failing to keep up with the wandering flock or apparently content with its own company, often lying down, and when up and moving constantly twitching its tail and perhaps trying to turn round and itch the affected area (not a chance – evolution has put the blowfly attack site just out of reach). Without intervention, the sheep will die a horid lingering death. This morning I spotted one of the young wedders showing the tell-tale behaviour, and after a gentle chase around the field, I got him cornered. After cutting away fleece, I could identify two separate blowfly ‘strikes’ and treated these with a treatment I got from the vet last week, after a similar case with one of my breeding ewes. The blue-stained liquid worked wonders: many hundreds of maggots came ‘bubbling’ to the surface and died ; I gently scraped away the debris and applied a disinfectant spray to the wounds, and washed away faecal matter from his backside and legs, which would attract blowflies back. Now he needs to build up strength again, but none of the young wedders have yet acquired a taste for sheep nuts, so all I could do for now was put him back with his father and half-brothers where the grass is stil plentiful and sweet, and hope he recovers.