Gallinippers: Giant Mosquitoes Expected to Invade Florida

Posted on March 10, 2013

Florida is expected to be invaded by gallinippers this summer. The aggressive insects are twenty times the size of ordinary mosquitoes. The scientific name for them is Psorophora ciliata. The bite of the insects is reportedly painful. To make things worse the insects are also very aggressive.

The insects are the largest known mosquitoes in the U.S. They have a body about half an inch long and a wingspan of 6.0-6.7 mm (.24 to .26 inches). A comparison of Psorophora ciliata to common mosquitoes is pictured above.

A release coming out of the University of Florida says the large mosquito may be abundant in Florida this summer. The University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman says Florida had a bumper crop of the big bugs last year and this year could be a repeat. The eggs of the insect hatch during flooding rains. The mouthparts of the gallinipper larvae have evolved to hold and grasp prey. The larvae do feed on the larvae of other mosquito species. The larvae have even been documented feeding on tadpoles according to this report.

University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman, says, "I wouldn't be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year. When we hit the rainy cycle we may see that again."

Kaufman says the bite of the large mosquito does hurt. He says, "The bite really hurts, I can attest to that."

Manatee County Mosquito Control entomologist Mark Latham disagrees. He told 10 News that the bug's bite is not as painful as some people say. Latham says, "They don't want you to notice them biting, because otherwise you'll swat them and they won't be able to lay their eggs. Most mosquitoes are stealthy."

Latham also assures everyone, "From a purely scientific standpoint it's nothing to be worried about." Take a look:

Photo: Marisol Amador/UF IFAS

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