Tall men and women with a high body mass index are more likely to be bitten by midges, experts said today.
Researchers studying the feeding habits of the Scottish biting midge said bigger people were more likely to be attacked because they "provide a more substantial visual target" for the insects. Midges are also found in greater numbers at increasing heights - meaning tall people are more likely to be bitten.
The study, by the University of Aberdeen and Rothamsted Research, also suggested children may inherit a tendency to be bitten from their parents, and that women were more likely to react to insect bites than men.
The survey-based study was carried out at the 2008 First Monster Challenge - a 120km duathlon on the shores of Loch Ness in the Highlands. They asked "hundreds" of competitors about their bites in the largest investigation of its kind for any biting insect.
Professor Jenny Mordue, retired professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of Aberdeen, who led the study, said: "The setting around the shores of Loch Ness is classic midge territory."