“Huge,” “giant,” “mega,” and “aggressive” are not the words you want to hear before “mosquito.” But that’s how experts describe Psorophora ciliata, or the “gallinipper” mosquito. Native to the eastern U.S. and immortalized in stories and folk songs for decades, these big biters are now expanding into Florida.
Up to 20 times the size of other mosquitos, the gallinippers aren’t known for spreading disease, but their bites are likened to being stabbed with a knife — and unlike Florida’s other invasive species, they don’t make for an even remotely good meal (we presume). From the Huffington Post:
Doug Carlson, mosquito control director for Indian River County, told WPTV that the insects are so big, “it can feel like a small bird has landed on you.” Meanwhile, Gary Goode of Palm Beach County Mosquito Control told WPBF the mosquito “practically breaks your arm” when it feeds on you.
A warmer winter and stagnant waters left over from Tropical Storm Debby (some parts of the state got 75 inches of rain in 2012) have scientists and residents nervous about the bites to come. The Gainesville Sun reports:
Whatever the mosquito type, locals could be destined for “a very rough summer,” said Paul Myers, administrator for the Alachua County Health Department.
The area’s mild winter spared mosquitoes from the hard freezes that would have killed many of them, he said, adding that major rainfall would amplify the problem. Two-thirds of the county’s population lives in areas with mosquito spraying, but the rest lives in unincorporated Alachua County, where the County Commission has opted not to spray because of concerns about the cost and effectiveness of the treatment, as well as its environmental impacts, Myers said.
New research suggests those sprays aren’t worth much against increasingly invincible super-skeeters anyway, so mosquitoes giant and non- will probably cause an uptick in bloody bites this summer regardless. But it’s not just “this summer” anymore, is it? With extra rain, rising seas, more warm winters, and more warm bodies, gallinippers have good reason to stay in Florida. Wear your long sleeves, folks.