MIDGES are the scourge of Scotland - a tiny army that has caused thousands of tourists to make a hasty retreat.

However, an inventor says he has come up with an ingenious idea to keep them at bay.

Retired professor Alistair Stewart has invented the Bugwisa, a baseball style cap with a built-in anti-midge fan to blow the little blighters away.

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Mr Stewart, 59, who took early retirement from his job as an electronics tutor in Glasgow on health grounds, has always invented things in his spare time.

He said: "I used to be involved in aeronautics and model air planes and I noticed the midges never came round the planes that were flying.

"The fan does give you relief from the midges and anything else that flies, it protects your face and it is better than candles and stuff you spray on, it's better than anything else I have tried so far."

The cap is fitted with small solar panels so that in the summer the fan can operate without batteries, although a battery connection can be fitted as a back-up.

Mr Stewart, from Connel, near Oban, who has also come up with a hard hat version of his idea for construction workers, says the cap can be used by fishermen and by anyone spending time outdoors and will also keep kitchen staff cool.

He said: "If it is used inside you can fit a battery pack at the back of the cap."

He added: "Midges definitely scunner you. If I can get someone to manufacture this the tourists will come back to Scotland.

"It can be manufactured for sale for under £10 for the cap and £25 for the hard hat, but I am just an ideas man,

"I want to find someone to manufacture this for me."

Another of Mr Stewart's inventions is a two-fan unit designed to fit on to outdoor canopies and garden table umbrellas, to create a down- draft, similar to that created by a helicopter. He said: "It dispenses the midges."

Scotland's leading midge expert has forecast that midges could return to the Highlands in record numbers this year.

Dr Alison Blackwell said the mild winter and warm spring, following on from earlier torrential rain, could create perfect conditions for midges.

Midges are estimated to cost the Scottish tourist industry £286 million each year in lost revenue. Last year, however, the hot summer caused a fall in the number of biting midges recorded. Four out of the five midge recording traps saw falls of up to 80% compared to 2012.