Monster Mosquitoes Emerge in Central Florida

The quarter-sized bloodsuckers are notorious for their aggressive behavior

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Marisol Amador / IFAS / UF

Entomologist Phil Kaufman shows the size difference between an invasive Asian tiger mosquito, right, and the native species Psorophora ciliata, sometimes called the gallinipper

In Karen Russell’s gonzo 2012 Pulitzer-finalist novel Swamplandia!, a Florida man is hoisted skyward in the talons of coffin-sized birds. In real life, giant mosquitoes that can apparently feel like a (small) bird when they land on you have already invaded the Sunshine State to torment locals and tourists alike, reports Orlando-based WKMG.

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According to the TV station, the quarter-sized insects were first spotted in Seminole County late last week. The aggressive bloodsuckers “can bite right through your clothing and give you a good pinch, more painful than an ordinary mosquito bite,” University of Florida natural-resources agent Ken Gioeli told West Palm Beach–based WPTV back in March.

University of Florida entomologists warned in March that Psorophora ciliata — or gallinippers as they’re sometimes called — might appear this summer, weighing up to 20 times the size of a typical mosquito and even more aggressive. The catalyst? Heavy rains from Tropical Storms Debby and Andrea, which probably hatched the monster mosquito eggs that can lay dormant for years. As the university quipped in March: “If mosquitos were motorcycles, this species would be a Harley Davidson — big, bold, American-made and likely to be abundant in Florida this summer.”

What does it feel like when a mosquito the size of a quarter chomps on your arm, leg or neck? Doug Carlson, mosquito-control director for Indian River County in Florida, who’s actually been bitten by the insects, said it was only a little more painful than a regular mosquito bite. Still, he said, “The gallinippers are so big they’re certainly very noticeable. It can feel like a small bird has landed on you.”

Fortunately you shouldn’t need whatever they sell to fend off attacks from small birds: instead, the usual things apply, like bug spray containing DEET, covering up, or just staying inside after sunset. The good news: according to University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman, the gallinippers don’t carry viruses harmful to humans.

Poor Florida can’t catch a break. In April, rat-sized house-eating snails emerged in the state to chow on stucco domiciles and ooze slime trails on walls and sidewalks everywhere.

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8 comments
kuei12
kuei12

I have figured out that on these Time articles you can skip over the first 2 or 3 paragraphs. That's how long it takes them to get to the point. All we need are the facts!

morleyrobertson
morleyrobertson

Big deal.  We have mosquitoes twice the size of that in Northern Canada.

Culex100
Culex100

You should be ashamed publishing information without invesitgating the validity. They are only about 3-5 times the size of most mosquitoes, not even near the size of a dime, their name has nothing to do with taking a "gallon" of blood, printing an apparent joke about being the size of a bird, they are not considered a common pest mosquito, they usually occur in low numbers, prefer to bite animals particularly cattle, they have not arrived in Florida, the bite is described as not more painful then many mosquitoes, they have always been in Florida so there is no recent invasion at all, and they can be found throughout the eastern U. S. from Florida to Maine and West to Ohio.  Yes this species contains large mosquitoes. Period. It would be nice to see some investigation on your part and not simply passing on unfounded and false information to your readers. I thought that was the job of a news organization. I could do the same from my home. very sad..

uuuubstrds
uuuubstrds

we here in carolina are offended that people torture our state bird.

DavidWright1
DavidWright1

The giant mosquito is on the right hand side of the person holding it - indeed, it is held by his right hand - but it is on the left of the picture as seen by the reader and this is the normal convention for denoting left and right in illustrations.

MikeOverHere
MikeOverHere

@DavidWright1 You need to read the story, and caption, again. The story isn't about the Asian tiger mosquito, which is small and, as the caption indicates, on the right. The story is about the Psorophora ciliata, which is large and, as the photo indicates, on the left.