Stock up on the DEET. Florida is about to be invaded by monster mosquitoes with exceptionally painful bites, according to a University of Florida entomologist.
The mosquitoes of an unusual size are called Psorophora ciliata. Well, that's what entomologists call them, anyway. Most people refer to the quarter-sized bloodsuckers as shaggy-haired gallinippers. They're about 20 times the size of the mosquitoes that normally reside in Florida and their bite reportedly feels like a small knife wound.
Whatever you call them, gallinippers are actually native to Florida and other Eastern states but they're not seen most summers. They lie dormant for years at a time and only hatch after big rainstorms or floods. According to entomologist Phil Kaufman, last summer was particularly bad for gallinippers in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby. Kaufman says that if Florida has another rainy summer this year, the gallinippers will probably be out in force. "I wouldn't be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year," he said in a prepared statement. "When we hit the rainy cycle, we may see that again."
Anthony Pelaez from the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa told MyFoxOrlando that gallinippers are "mean" and that their bite "feels like you're being stabbed." They can even bite right through thick clothes, although wearing long pants and long sleeves helps keep them away. And while DEET might keep them away, they're big enough that the insect repellant might not be as effective as it normally is.
On the other hand, there's actually a tiny bit of good news about the giant bugs. They don't live very long, they aren't known to carry any diseases, and they eat other mosquito larvae, which may mean fewer disease-carrying regular mosquitoes later this summer.
To help the public learn more about these monster mosquitoes, Kaufman and one of his graduate students have put up an information page on the University of Florida's "Featured Creatures" website. The page includes scientific information, photos of the insects at both their larval and full-grown stages, and tips on effective management techniques.
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