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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 August 2006, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Summer proves too hot for midges
Culicoides impuntatus - the female midge. Image supplied by Dr Damien Nolan - University of Aberdeen
Midges can be the scourge of holidaymakers
A heatwave in Scotland has killed off midges in record numbers, according to an expert at Edinburgh University.

The biting insect, which is notorious for blighting holidays in Scotland, thrives in warm, damp conditions.

Dr Alison Blackwell said about 30% fewer midges had been counted this summer in the 32 official traps that monitor the pest across the country.

However, she said global warming was likely to lead to "perfect midge weather" in Scotland in the long-term.

She said: "Traps that would normally catch hundreds of grammes in a week are only catching tens of grammes.

Tourism hit

"At the beginning of the summer there were as many as ever, but in the past few weeks there have been significantly less."

Dr Blackwell, who runs a spin-off company from Edinburgh University that develops new methods of insect control, prepares a daily midge forecast.

"This is my 16th year of trapping and counting and it is the first year we've had such a hot, dry, second half of the summer," she said.

"They don't like dryness, heat or wind. So it has not been a good year for the midges."

The Scottish tourist industry is estimated to lose about 286m a year because of midges.

A study carried out by Dr Blackwell found that 49% of tourists said they would not return to Scotland at the same time of year because of the insect.


SEE ALSO
Tourism drive over midge numbers
28 Jul 04 |  Scotland
Number's up for Scottish midges
26 May 04 |  Scotland
UK wildlife 'heading into crisis'
18 Mar 04 |  Science/Nature
Oldest insect delights experts
11 Feb 04 |  Science/Nature

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