MIDGES are enjoying an Indian Summer with four times as many of the winged pests on the loose this month compared with August.
Scientists are currently trapping around 20,000 midges a night at one west coast location compared with 4,000 a night last month.
Some parts of Scotland are even rating the maximum “five” rating for midge menace.
The year-on-year increase is even more astonishing as only a few hundred midges were caught per week in September 2014.
Researchers say Scotland is set for its most midge-infested autumn for six years.
And the vast number of eggs laid by the creatures could herald even worst misery next summer if the winter and spring conditions are right.
David Falconer, an entomologist, at Dundee-based company APS Biocontrol, which specialises in midge forecasting, said midges were probably making up for the dismal summer weather.
“It’s currently at 20,000 midges per night,” he said. “I looked back through the data and it hadn’t been like this since 2009.
“It wasn’t bad at all last year. It’s gone from 100-500 per week to 20,000 per night.
A squad of volunteers help capture and count midges at locations across Scotland, using giant propane-powered traps.
Dr Falconer said: “At Gairloch now they are up at 15,000 per night and in August it was down as low as 3,500 per night.
“And it was 5,000 per night for Argyll in August – now they’re back up at 20,000.”
He added: “Normally we would expect to see the exact opposite happen. The past four or five years they would normally tail off around September or October.”
He warned that the misery might continue for some time, adding: “Midges normally have a six-week life cycle, with 2, possibly 3 generations a season.
“The current midge population is probably second generation and if conditions remain favourable, there might well be a small third generation to come”.
Dr Alison Blackwell, director of APS, said: “Our forecast scores midges on a scale of one, which is little nuisance, to five, which is high nuisance.
“At this time of the year I would expect scores of one and two for most areas but just now, much of Scotland’s ‘midge territory’ is still showing a ‘three’ or ‘four’ and even a ‘five’ in some areas.”
In June, it was reported that Scotland’s tourist industry faced losing £286m a year because of the biting pests.
Despite their ferocious reputation, the creatures are tiny, with two million midges weighing only a kilo.