A WET summer followed by a short hot spell of weather has been blamed for an explosion in the number of mosquitoes.

As a consequence there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking treatment for irritating and painful bites.

“It’s the worst that I have seen it for 15 or 20 years,” said Mike Bland, a locum at Rowlands Pharmacy in Lyndhurst .

“We have certainly seen double to what we would normally see. “Sometimes at weekends, particularly on a Saturday, we may see 15 or 20 people.

“It’s particularly bad for people that are camping in the New Forest . “It started in early July when we had that very wet spell.”

Recently supermarket giant Tesco reported sales of the creams rocketing by 150 per cent at its pharmacies across the country, which is the most concentrated demand for insect bite and sting creams they have ever seen.

Meanwhile the number of people calling NHS Direct for advice on treating bites has reportedly been at its highest level in three years this summer.

In Hampshire inner-city chemists have also seen a surge in demand.

Marinela Topala, dispenser, at Bassil Chemists, Bedford Place, Southampton : “Compared to last year we have seen a huge increase in the number of people coming in with mosquito bites. “In the last month we had about two or three people coming in every day needing antihistamines or creams.

“People have been saying the mosquitoes are unusually very big as well. “Some people have had a very bad reaction and we have had to send two or three of them to hospital recently for this reason.”

Dave Rumble, head of conservation at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, says this summer’s weather has created the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes.

“I have heard anecdotal suggestion that it has been a bumper year for them, which is not surprising,” he said. “I put it down to the wet and mild summer. “Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant standing water – such as a bucket in a garden left to fill with rain or a pond – and the larvae will develop very rapidly in the warm conditions. “As long as the water doesn’t dry out before it’s completed its life cycle it results in lots of adult mosquitoes.”

While Mr Rumble did say that he had heard people talk of larger than normal mosquitoes he said that this could also be a result of the weather.

“It could be that it has been such a good year for them that they have grown fat and large,” he said.