The dreaded Highland midge has flouted lockdown rules in record numbers this summer.
Walkers and campers have experienced and filmed shocking amounts of the winged menace.
Experts at APS Biocontrol in Dundee, monitoring the invasion and providing an online midge forecast, believe the creatures are having a population explosion this summer.
Project manager Jay Hutchison said: “The weather has been perfect for it at the moment.
“It’s a bit of a mix of really wet conditions, the thunder and lightning we had last week, but mixed in with the really hot weather, where it’s been roughly 20C .
“That’s just absolutely perfect for midges to breed in and to hatch in, especially in the west coast, so that’s exactly why we are seeing such huge numbers.”
With barely a 2mm wingspan, the midge is widely considered Scotland’s most ferocious foe.
It is said locals can become immune to their bite while visitors are an “all-you-can-eat buffet” for midges’ tiny, razor-sharp jaws.
Only the female midge bites. The mini vampires need a blood meal to give second and third batches of their offspring enough nutrients to grow.
They do not carry disease but they can leave their mark for days.
A local camper said: “So you finish your day, you set-up your tent, it’s all nice and peaceful… and then a cloud of pain arrives over the hill and you have like a few minutes to jump in your tent and get it closed.”
Midges thrive in gloomy, still conditions. They love boggy ground and are attracted to dark clothes. They hone in on carbon dioxide in human breath from as far as 200 yards.
Citronella candles are a good deterrent. The critters hate the smell.
Scientists have developed a repellent that messes with midges’ CO2 receptors, making it harder for them to sense a human presence.