WHILE I have revelled in the glorious weather we have enjoyed since Mother Nature decided to apologise for shovelling all that snow on us in February and March, there has been a decided downside to all that sunshine.

For seldom can I remember a summer so replete with clegs, midges and other biting insects.

As the old song goes, with teeth like piranhas they drive you bananas every time you poke your nose out into the great outdoors.

This year it is the clegs – also known as horse flies – that have troubled me most, for unlike most blood-sucking varmints, they refuse to be flapped away like their less voracious cousins.

They are the Mike Tysons of the insect world, and keep wading forward, oblivious to Jungle Formula, mozzideath , eau de Jimmy Savile and every other repellant known to man, including the much-praised Skin So Soft left by the Avon Lady.

They land so softly for such a big beast that you don’t know they are there until you feel the very life essence being sucked out of an arm or leg.

Braced on all six legs, the head is bowed as it slurps rhythmically away. You cannot brush one off once it is latched on – the only deterrent is crushing it to death.

But a dead cleg leaves a legacy of pain, often just an itchy lump, but in my case one year, a bite behind the knee which caused my leg to swell up to elephantine proportions and I finished up in the doctor’s surgery needing an urgent infusion of antihistamines.

And they don’t really care where they bite you – one got me right in the centre of the palm of my work-toughened right hand, gnawing through segs and calluses to feast on my fulsome flesh.

Pound for pound though, clegs are a breeze when compared to midges, the deadly scourge of the North Tyne.

There is nothing more disconcerting than hearing that dentist’s drill squeal in close proximity to your ears as they come in mob-handed to drain your blood and leave you covered in big red pustules which can itch for days.

People who work in Kielder can often be seen wearing midge veils, hats with netting attached to keep the beasties out, and I once saw a chap cocooned in something like a Burkha, constructed entirely from supposedly midge proof netting – he was still scratching though.

This is also supposedly a bad year for ticks, but I have yet to find any on the dog, even though she spends large parts of her day sniffing around in long grass, which is known to harbour legions of the voracious bloodsuckers.

She was prone to them in the past, but Mrs Hextol is an expert remover of them with her sharp talons, nipping them off whole whilst being sure not to leave the head still buried in the dog.

She was out one day, when I detected a familiar lump on the dog’s belly and decided that anything Mrs Hextol could do, I could do better,

I gripped the lump beneath the nails of thumb and index finger as I had seen her do, and nipped away, but the dog howled and the tick stayed firmly in place.

It took three goes, and an uncharacteristic snarl from the dog, before I realised I was trying to remove one of her nipples.

The Hextol Towers conservatory is a favourite gathering place for pesky flies, and the release of extravagant quantities of Raid only has limited success , because of all the relatives which turn up for the funerals of those which die.

Bluebottles seem to thrive on Raid, and can drone through clouds of the stuff for days on end.

When I was younger, and my reflexes were a little sharper, I could actually snatch them out of the air as they flew past, and some years ago, a friend and I dealt with a plague of bluebottles by shooting them down in droves with thick rubber bands.

When we were abroad a few weeks ago, mosquitos from an open drain were a problem, and left their mark on both Mrs Hextol and myself.

There was some satisfaction to be gleaned from splattering their sated bodies with a newspaper the next morning in a explosion of blood and guts, but a fellow pensioner from Lancashire reckoned she had the answer.

She confided: “They fly up yer frock yer know, but I’ve got flypapers fastened to me knickers!”