Giant mosquitoes, the size of quarters, are likely to infest Florida this summer, according to experts from the University of Florida.
These huge, biting insects, which are called Psorophora ciliata, or more commonly known as gallinippers, invaded the state last year and, according to entomologist Phil Kaufman, there may be another invasion on the way.
"I wouldn't be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year," said Kaufman, an associate professor with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "When we hit the rainy cycle we may see that again."
Female gallinippers lay their eggs in soil at the borders of water bodies that overflow after heavy rain, such as ponds and streams. Therefore, they are referred to as floodwater mosquitoes.
The eggs can stay dry and inactive for a long time, even years, until waters are high enough to help them hatch.
Florida was hit by Tropical Storm Debbie last june, which resulted in flooding in several areas and the release of great numbers of gallinippers and other floodwater mosquitoes.
The mosquito is native to the whole Eastern side of North America and its body is approximately half an inch long with a black-and-white color pattern, making it look like a super-sized form of the invasive Asian tiger mosquito.
Just like all other biting mosquitoes, the female gallinippers feed on blood and the males feed on flower nectar.
The species is well-known for being aggressive and having a painful bite. "The bite really hurts, I can attest to that," Kaufman said. The pain has been described as similar to being stabbed.
According to the scientists:
"Even in the larval stage, gallinippers are fearsome. Most mosquito larvae are content to subsist on decaying plant matter floating in the waters where they develop, but gallinippers are omnivorous, devouring other mosquito larvae and even tadpoles."
Knowing gallinippers possess that trait, they may be a good option for biological control efforts by using the larvae to decrease populations of other pest mosquitoes.
Unfortunately, that strategy has a deadly flaw - it results in more gallinippers, explained UF/IFAS entomology graduate student Ephraim Ragasa.
"That kind of defeats the purpose of using them for biocontrol," he added.
Repellents consisting of DEET can be used to fend off Gallinippers, however, Kaufman believes that because of their huge size, they might be able to endure the compound more than smaller biting mosquitoes.
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Response To Brad Regarding Fact-checking
posted by Todd on 12 Mar 2013 at 8:03 am
Well, Brad, and all you others that fancy yourself Tea Party folks or apologists thereof, we have Federal, State and Local government in this country, and Tea Party toxins are at work at every level...
Here are the facts, quoted from a recent article:
"Last year, a trio of conservative activists dubbing themselves the "Mosquitoteers" challenged several members on the Anastasia Mosquito Control Board in St. Augustine. They campaigned on a plan to cut mosquito control taxes and the district's budget and bought a billboard reading: "Smash mosquitoes and the friends of Obama." Never mind, notes board member Vivian Browning, that the seats are nonpartisan: "Mosquitoes, they don't care if you're Republican, Democrat, or independent. They can eat you, infect you, kill you, regardless of party." One of the Mosquitoteers, a reserve sheriff's deputy, defeated a University of Florida biology professor who is an expert in mosquito-borne diseases—a concern in a state that has regular outbreaks of West Nile virus and has seen an uptick in dengue fever.
The state Legislature has also done its part to liberate mosquitoes from the shackles of big government. In 2011, the Republican-dominated Legislature slashed the state's contribution to mosquito control by 40 percent. Florida A&M University closed one of two major mosquito research labs in the state after the Legislature axed $500,000 in research funds. Public health officials succeeded in restoring money to keep the lab open, only to see Scott kill it with a stroke of his veto pen. Along with other budget cuts, the closure halved the number of Florida scientists working on mosquito control.
Also, check Google News for other local reports about the inane antics of local Tea Party activists in Florida...under the term 'Mosquitoteers'
and check your facts before you provide lectures on what a great force for good the "Tea Party" is. The same love of ignorance and uninformed hyperbole, and hatred of the "other", which drives Tea Party activists, is what promoted the rise of National Socialism!
My family and I were in the keys a couple of summers ago and the no see ems were so bad it was unbearable both day and night. I've been to the Keys, during the summer, many times over the years and the mosquito population always seemed to vary significantly with each trip. It's all part of the ambiance of a tropical climate. That's why we go there, right? Oh, how I long to someday be a citizen of the Conch Republic.
Mosquito control is a local problem. The Tea Party is a national ideology that the federal government has grown too big and interferes in local matters. For example, the federal EPA interferes with local needs for mosquito control. Florida voted for Obama last federal election. Are we to infer Obama supports the Tea Party?
The idea is to cut the spending of a national government that borrows 40 cents of every dollar spent and inflates our money with more printed money made in Obama's administration than all previous governments before G. Bush combined. There is no rational argument for destroying the country the way our federal government currently does.
'Giant Mosquitoes Likely To Infest Florida This Summer'
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If you and your family are planning to spend some of the summer by the sea, by the pool, or perhaps even a river or lake, perhaps you should ask yourself: do you really know what drowning looks like?