The current drought in the Western Isles has resulted in an unexpected spin-off being welcomed by tourists and locals alike – a lack of midges.
And midge expert Dr Alison Blackwell predicts a population decline of the blood-sucking insects next summer if the good weather continues.
While there has been an explosion of the dreaded midge throughout the rest of Scotland because of the wettest summer on record, the Western Isles is reaping the rewards of escaping the rain – recording just a fifth of normal summer rainfall.
Dr Blackwell, a director of Advanced Pest Solutions in Edinburgh, which traps midges in order to predict the extent of the problem, said: “Midges like wet weather.
“That is why we have had few reports of midges from the Outer Hebrides.
“The drought will not kill them off, but it will reduce their numbers, particularly for this year’s second generation hatch. And if the weather continues, it will affect next year’s hatch as well because there will be less of them to lay eggs.
“Midges will survive. They have survived all kinds of conditions over millions of years, including Ice Ages.”
A spokesman for VisitScotland said: “While midges can undeniably be a nuisance, they do not deter the majority of visitors from coming to Scotland or enjoying their holidays here. A decrease in the number of midges will certainly be good news for holidaymakers, but not even midges can detract from the breathtaking beauty of Scotland’s landscapes.”
Argyll has recorded the highest number of midges trapped up to the beginning of July this year, with 4,630,080, which is more than three times up on last year.
Catches at Gairloch were up by 450 per cent, Skye was up 380 per cent, Loch Ness was up 265 per cent, Galloway Forest was up by 750 per cent,