IT had all the ingredients to be the perfect swarm.

And so it has turned out to be, with midges plaguing Scotland in record numbers this year.

Experts say above-average temperatures and rainfall exactly when the first hatch of the insects emerged proved a perfect combination.

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The result was that the three main midge-counting traps - in Wester Ross, Argyll and Galloway - between them recorded more than 800,000 midges in May when they barely caught a couple of hundred in the same month last year.

By the second week of June, with the midges out in full biting force, the Wester Ross trap alone clocked 915,000 in seven days. Even in the past two weeks, numbers have been on average more than 12 times last year's.

Dr Alison Blackwell, director of Dundee-based APS Biocontrol Ltd, runs the Scottish Midge Forecast. She said: "The mild winter meant more of the larvae survived into this year, so all it needed was the wet and warm weather to come at the right time for them."