Monster Mosquitoes Are Invading Florida.
1. Entomologists predict quarter-sized gallinippers (like the beast seen at left) will invade Florida.
2. Giant mosquitoes invade Florida.
Messages circulating online and media reports talk about these giant and monster mosquitoes called Gallinippers, that they are going to invade Florida. Although the picture of the large mosquito accompanying the messages is genuine, and there is some concern over these mosquitoes, the warnings about the size and dangers of the mosquitoes are exaggerated.
The Buzz around Monster Mosquitoes
The buzz around this “giant” mosquito invasion in Florida started early in 2013, with not just online messages, but even through many credible news reports. They called the mosquitoes as Gallinippers, the scientific name of which being Psorophora ciliata, and termed them as mega mosquito, monster mosquitoes, ferocious or super-sized mosquitoes – claiming that these giant mosquitoes are coming to Florida to attack people.
The reports suggested that there will be an explosion of these shaggy-haired gallinipper mosquitoes, which weigh up to 20 times that of a normal mosquito, and their bite can be very painful. However, not all these are facts, and most of the claims are exaggerated.
The Origin of Fear
These claims of “huge” Psorophora ciliata mosquitoes invading Florida actually started from March 2013, after a related article was published in Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) of the University of Florida. The article was basically a course assignment of a student at University of Florida that explained about this large insect, which was later co-authored by his professor, Phillip Kaufman and was featured in IFAS. This article was only meant for public awareness, but it soon got more than enough attention and then came up the exaggerated warnings.
Phillip Kaufman, the associate professor of Entomology at UF was himself surprised at this media hype surrounding the “giant” gallinipper.
Facts about the Gallinipper Mosquitoes
Firstly, the Entomological Society of America did not recognize ‘gallinipper’ or ‘shaggy-legged gallinipper’ as an official common name for the Psorophora ciliata species of mosquitoes. The word gallinipper is a regional term used in the southeast United States, which means ‘a large mosquito or other insect that has a painful bite or sting’ and it has appeared from folk tales and traditional minstrel songs.
Secondly, Psorophora ciliata is a native mosquito species mostly seen in the eastern U.S., along with Florida and many other states. Yes, these mosquitoes are unusually large species, measuring up to half-inch, and similar to wild mosquitoes, Psorophora ciliata do bite hard and prefer blood of humans and other larger mammals. Although the male mosquitoes are relatively harmless, the females are more aggressive and bite hard, as they need to feed on blood to develop their eggs. But the good news is that they are not known to carry and spread any of the dreaded mosquito-borne illnesses.
Then what’s all this fuss about!? As mentioned above, about the article published in IFAS, it is to convey awareness to the public regarding the possible explosion of these mosquitoes. Like other mosquitoes, the gallinipper larvae develop in water, as the females lay eggs in soil at the banks of water bodies, where they can remain dormant for many months. So after heavy rains and floods, as it happened in last June in Florida, large numbers of gallinippers can unleash, along with other mosquitoes and cause trouble to people. The video below is a news report briefly explaining about this concern of gallinipper mosquitoes.
Psorophora ciliata mosquitoes, or Gallinippers as they are termed locally are not something new and ‘giant’ size to create panic among people. If you watch the picture in high resolution picture (shown in image above), you will notice that the two mosquitoes are shown in two different angles (the right one being an invasive Asian tiger mosquito), and so it appears as if it is giant size. You can see real pictures of Psorophora ciliata from the reference section below. Scary warnings around these gallinippers are exaggerations of some media news. In related news, there came up a satirical article on Natural News that said – Monster mosquito panic! Global warming causes elephant-sized zombie mosquitoes to invade Florida; victims sucked dry.
Nevertheless, it is also important to be safe from these large gallinipper mosquitoes. Some precautions to avoid such mosquito bites is to dress to cover your body completely, and then avoid the wooded areas, especially where rain waters get stagnant.
Hoax or Fact:
‘Giant’ mosquito invasion? Nope, just another Florida critter
Huge, aggressive mosquito may be abundant in Florida this summer, UF/IFAS expert warns
Pictures of Species Psorophora ciliata – Gallinipper