June 12, 2013
Attack Of The Gallinippers: Oversized Mosquitoes Expected To Invade Florida
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Giant mosquitoes are coming, and while they´re not exactly the sort of thing that you´d find in an Ed Wood movie, they are far larger than the garden-variety member of this insect genus and are said to pack a painful bite.In fact, these mosquitoes — which are known as gallinippers or Psorophora ciliata — are 20 times larger than their more common cousins, according to ClickOrlando.com.
Their coming was predicted by University of Florida (UF) entomologists last year after the quarter-sized bloodsuckers were spotted in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Debbie, and they have reportedly already been seen in Seminole County, Florida.
Ken Gioeli of the St. Lucie Cooperative Extension Service told Tyler Treadway of Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers that the galliinipper is a “vicious” biter that can “bite right through your clothing and give you a good pinch, more painful than an ordinary mosquito bite.”
However, Indian River County, Florida mosquito control director Doug Carlson said that he had been bitten by the insects before and that he was not convinced that the bite “is all that much more painful than other mosquito bites.” However, he did add that the gallinippers are large enough to be “very noticeable,” and that if one lands on a person it “can feel like a small bird has landed on you.”
Gallinippers, Treadway explains, are approximately half-an-inch long with hairy hind legs and stripes similar to those of a zebra. They are the largest biting mosquitoes in the US and are native to the eastern half of North America. Furthermore, only the females are blood feeders, while the males use flower nectar and other sources of sugar for their sustenance.
UF entomologist Phil Kaufman told ClickOrlando.com that the overgrown pests were “notoriously aggressive” but were not known to carry any pathogens that are potentially harmful to humans. Furthermore, Gene Lemire, mosquito control manager for Martin County, told Treadway that, despite their size, gallinippers “tend to be a pasture mosquito, biting mostly cattle and horses and just incidentally biting humans.”
So how do you protect yourself from these massive mosquitoes should you be one of the humans they just happen to incidentally try to bite? According to Time´s Matt Peckham, the normal defenses (such as bug spray that contains DEET, making sure that you are covered up, or staying indoors once the sun goes down) are still effective against gallinippers.