‘Giant’ Mosquitoes Set to Invade Florida This Summer

It's not as if they didn't have anything else to worry about.

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As if residents of the Sunshine State didn’t have enough to worry about, they should now be preparing themselves for a possible statewide infestation of supermosquitoes, according to University of Florida entomologists.

Psorophora ciliata, commonly known as gallinippers, can grow up to 20 times the size of an average mosquito. They lay their eggs at the edges of flood-prone areas, where they can lay dormant for years until the eggs are saturated by heavy rains. Entomologists expect that a large crop of these mosquitoes could hatch this summer, given enough rainfall.

“I wouldn’t be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year” when Tropical Storm Debbie inundated the area, said Phil Kaufman, an entomologist at the University.

(MORE: How Mutant Mosquitoes Are Fighting Dengue Fever)

The creatures have been known (and despised) since at least 1897, when  author David Flanery described them in the journal Nature as “the little zebra-legged thing – the shyest, slyest, meanest and most venomous of them all.”

Psorophora ciliata is native to the entire eastern half of North America. The males have bottlebrush-like feathery antennae, and feed on flower nectar.

It is the female of the species, however, that people will have to look out for. The female gallinipper feeds on blood both night and day, and can bite clean through clothing. Some describe the bite as like being stabbed, or having a hot nail driven into your skin. “The bite really hurts, I can attest to that,” said Kaufman.

To help Florida residents understand and prepare for a possible influx this summer, Kaufman and his colleagues have produced an informative document, downloadable here from the University of Florida website.

(MORE: West Nile Infection Remains High – How Alarmed Should You Be?)

The one upshot of a possible invasion of gallinippers is that the insects, when at the larval stage, are so predatory that they devour other mosquito larvae and even tadpoles. They are also not considered to be disease carrying. The possible use of them to control populations of other pests has been ruled out as it would result in more of the over-size bloodsucking creatures. And nobody really wants that.

MORE: WATCH: 15,000 ‘Frenzied’ Sharks Stalk South Florida Coast

12 comments
jodiblonde75
jodiblonde75

My husband just told me this morning about a mosquito (skeeter) that was buzzing around his head last night that he swears is a "Jurassic Park" mosquito.  He said he thought the thing was going to carry off his head, and had never seen a mosquito of that enormous size in his life.  We live in East TN in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.  I'm thinking that Florida isn't the only place that will have to worry about these awful beasts. 

EddieTaylor
EddieTaylor

I live in cumberland CO Tennessee And saw I huge tiger mosqeto in front yard Twice as big as the tigers in florida where I lived for 20 years. Body was3/4 inch front leg to back leg 1 1/4 inches It must be a super hybred.  it has rained here almost every day for six months

AGPym
AGPym

Late-capitalism seems to have a lot of tough-love for the Gulf Coast: the water is full of oil and the overheated planet is sending a scourge of super-mosquitoes. 

MaryMahiMahi
MaryMahiMahi

I narrowly escaped having lived in Flori-DUH for 30+ years now there's super mosquitoes?  On the good side you won't have to worry about the pesky no see ums these will be easy to swat but can you imagine the blood trail left behind?  Super mosquitoe able to leap tall buildings in flight in a single bound, able to lift bodies to turn them over to bite, able to fly longer distances to reach you,  able to drain most of your blood in a single sip.  Super mosquitoe somewhere out there is looking for YOU.    You head to the FL Blood Bank to draw blood super mosquitoe has been hired it's more efficient this way he requires some blood no ca$h or checks pls.  zzzzzzzzzzzzz 

monica478
monica478

That picture is terrifying! As if mosquitoes weren't problematic enough, now an even larger and more painful version might be coming along as well. Not too long ago I read an article about DEET-infused bug sprays and how mosquitoes are basically immune to them now. And when you think about how harmful the chemical DEET can be, it might not be worth using it. Since thick clothing isn't really ideal during the summer, it might be best to stick with some of the natural, plant-based repellents this year, like the ones here: http://www.healthytravelblog.com/2013/03/20/natural-homemade-mosquito-repellents/. I know I'll be using it this summer, and I'm sure more people will too! 

roknsteve
roknsteve like.author.displayName 1 Like

Florida Gov. Lurch is gonna give names to all the critters and sign them up to vote.

hummingbird
hummingbird

I thought about moving to Florida some time ago but this has permanently killed that idea. Also, I've seen the way hurricanes flatten the homes there and recently learned that FL is susceptible to sink holes. I hope they have a plan to kill these giant mosquitoes and nobody should have to contend with such a horrible thing.

FloridaSnark
FloridaSnark like.author.displayName 1 Like

@hummingbird Gee...that's a real shame.  Just what we need: another Geriatric Snowbird coming down and clogging our roads.  Don't forget we have really BIG roaches, HUGE 'Gators, Bears, Panthers, all kinds of BUGS, Sharks at the beaches, Pervs at our playgrounds and malls.  OH YEA...the ENTIRE state is one big sinkhole field and we can't build hurricane proof houses worth a damn.  Best to stay away.

SJH0627
SJH0627

@hummingbird these mosquitoes are food to other animals. simply killing off these mosquitoes will be a detriment to those animals that rely on these mosquitoes as a food source, evevn though these mosquitoes are a pain to us huamns. afterall, it's all about us anyways...

NaveedXVO
NaveedXVO

@SJH0627 @hummingbird 

Who cares? We'll do just fine without whatever animal feeds on these mosquitoes. Aside from the fact that these mosquitos only appear every several years and therefore no animal can rely on them as a main food source. 

Some people don't seem to realize that it's a zero sum game, either animals live or humans live. Concerning regular types of mosquitos, the human species would be much much better off without them. No joy produced by looking at the little frogs and fish that benefit from them is going to make up for that. 

hummingbird
hummingbird

@SJH0627 @hummingbird What I read in the article suggests that these mosquitoes only started being a problem in FL last year and that there will be even more this summer. So what were these animals (who feast on them) eating while the eggs lay dormant for years? They could eat whatever they were eating before these giant mosquitoes started to appear or reappear.