SCOTS have enjoyed sunnier and warmer weather of late but subsequent rainy downpours have led to the dramatic emergence of a classic Scottish foe – the midge.

Social media users have complained in droves of the pesky biting beastie, including STV weather forecaster Sean Batty who, while enjoying the northern lights last weekend, complained of being “covered in midges and swallowing loads of them”.

Others have complained of “swarms” and “midges everywhere”.

But is there a midge epidemic in Scotland right now?

Midge specialist Alison Blackwell – whose company runs the Scottish Midge Forecast – told The National that Scotland’s first midge hatch of the year has come several weeks early due to the recent warm and wet weather.

“The weather over the past few days has accelerated the emergence. We probably normally see the first peak in Scotland around the first week of June,” she said – adding however that there isn’t anything entirely unusual about this early activity.

READ MORE: It’s not just Scotland that suffers from the dreaded midges

The Scottish tourism industry is estimated to lose about £286 million-a-year because of the swarming insects – and that is based on the traditional five-month-long midge season.

But Blackwell said that the season could be prolonged by climate change and global warming.

She explained: “The male midges emerge about a week ahead and then they mate with the females. The females lay eggs and six weeks later those eggs develop in the soil, and then they emerge six weeks later to give a second batch of midges, probably mid-July.

“What would normally happen is those second generation female midges will lay eggs towards the end of the summer. Those eggs hatch into the juvenile larval stages. They become almost fully mature, but then they don't emerge as adults. They go into a kind of hibernation until the next year.”

READ MORE: Midge repellents: Top tips to keep Scotland's biting beasties at bay

The midge expert added: “But if we have a warmer second half of the summer and autumn, you can get a third generation emerging.

“We could well see activity being extended – which would be the main impact of temperatures rising.”

Blackwell was keen to stress, however, that this wouldn’t necessarily impact all of Scotland as typical midge territory is limited to where they can lay eggs and breed – which tends to be damp, acidic soil.

She added that the first peak for midges in Scotland is set to come in around two weeks' time, encouraging people to check out the Scottish Midge Forecast.

Those who are battling with swarms of midges can also purchase midge repellent or even a midge net hat to keep the beasties at bay.