As if England fans needed more ammunition for jokes about their national team being plagued, swarms of flying insects have descended upon the Russian city Volgograd ahead of Monday’s World Cup game against Tunisia.

The bugs, a frequent issue in the city, are so prevalent that helicopters have been deployed to spray insecticide on Volgograd Arena, the site of four games over the course of the tournament. The choppers will also spray marshlands on the outskirts of the Volga River, which flows through the city.

How bad is it?

“They are on your face, stick to your lips, get inside your nostrils, your ears and your hair,” BBC Sport’s Natalie Pirks said. “I’ve had to debug myself at bedtime as you find dead ones you’ve splatted in the strangest of places.”

Players took to using repellent as they took the pitch for the night game.

John Murray, a Radio 5 live commentator, estimated that the bugs number in the billions.

“At one point last night,” he said (via the BBC), “it felt like I had a hundred thousand in my hair.”

The good news, according to the BBC, is that few of the insects are mosquitoes, and they’re swarming because this is breeding season. That means it will be a brief but ill-timed irritant.

Still, the insects did prompt one British news channel to cancel a series of live interviews planned in front of England’s hotel. Others have soldiered on, swatting and swiping at the bugs.

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