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Hairy gallinippers are up to five times larger than typical mosquitoes. (Marisol Amador / UF / IFAS)

Giant Mosquitoes Are Coming!

Scientists say mosquitoes the size of dimes could overrun Florida this summer

By Joe Bubar | June 21 , 2013

They’re big, they’re hairy, and they’re out for blood! What are they? They’re giant mosquitoes up to five times the size of typical mosquitoes—and scientists predict that large swarms of them may plague Florida this summer.

These big bugs are called psorophora ciliata (sohr-OFF-er-uh silly-AH-ta), but they’re more commonly known as gallinippers.

Female gallinippers lay their eggs in mud near bodies of water that overflow during heavy rains. The eggs hatch when water floods the nests and stands there for a few weeks.

Last year, Tropical Storm Debby flooded Florida—especially the region surrounding Tallahassee, the capital. This gave the gallinippers plenty of muddy places to lay their eggs. Scientists predict that if Florida is hit with more heavy storms this summer—like it was earlier this month when Tropical Storm Andrea struck the state—the gallinipper eggs will hatch in large numbers. If not, the eggs can sit there for years, waiting for water to flood the nests.

DON’T BUG OUT!

There are lots of myths about gallinippers. Some people say that getting bitten by one feels like being stabbed. Others say that when one lands on you, it feels as heavy as a small bird. Rumor has it that the insects got the name gallinipper because they can suck a gallon of your blood when they nip (bite) you.

Although gallinippers get a bad rap because of their size, that little red bump that they leave on your skin will itch no more than any other mosquito bite.

Like other mosquitoes, gallinippers prefer the blood of animals such as cows or deer to that of humans. So they tend to live mostly in rural or grassy areas rather than in cities.

Gallinippers even have a plus side. They eat the larvae (young form of insects) of other mosquitoes. So they actually help keep the overall population of mosquitoes down. And, unlike other mosquitoes, they don’t transmit (move something from one place to another) dangerous diseases when they bite you.

To keep gallinippers off you, experts say that bug repellent should do the trick. Or you can always swat them with a tennis racket!

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