MIDGE populations in Scotland are set to explode as a result of global warming, it was claimed yesterday.

A leading insect expert believes warmer and wetter weather will provide the blood-thirsty insects with ideal breeding conditions which will see their numbers rocket.

Dr Alison Blackwell of Edinburgh University claims midges will now survive until the autumn instead of dying off at the end of the summer.

And yesterday she claimed the midge will also begin spreading outwith its normal Highland domain and begin terrorising Scots throughout the country.

Dr Blackwell, 37, who is recognised as one of the country's leading midge experts, said: ''Midge survival is directly related to climate, including temperature, wind and rainfall.

''The threat in Scotland from climate change is that midges will spread in their distribution and live longer.''

There are 37 species of midge across the United Kingdom, but the warm, wet summers of the Highlands provide the best breeding grounds.