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Giant Mosquitoes will Invade Florida this Summer, Expert Says

Mar 11, 2013 07:55 AM EDT
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This summer, Florida will see the invasion of huge mosquitoes called gallinipper, according to entomologist Phil Kaufman from the University of Florida. Kaufman warns that there has been a rise in the number of huge mosquitoes due to the tropical storm that hit the state last year.

"I wouldn't be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year. When we hit the rainy cycle we may see that again," said Kaufman, who is an associate professor with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The mosquito, Psorophora ciliate, lives in floodwaters and is known to be aggressive and frightening.

The female gallinipper lays eggs in the soil around ponds and streams. The eggs remain dormant till heavy floods arrive. The heavy rains and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Debbie last year provided good conditions for gallinippers and other mosquitoes to hatch and thrive, according to a news release from the University.

Psorophora ciliata is also one of the few species of mosquitoes where even the larvae feed on other mosquito larvae. And, like most mosquitoes, only the females of the species are known to suck blood. Their bite can be really nasty.

"The bite really hurts, I can attest to that," Kaufman said.        

DEET can be helpful in protecting against the gallinippers. Other precautions include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially when going in areas that have been flooded.

Unlike other mosquitoes that carry disease causing organisms, the gallinipper hasn't been known to be a vector for diseases. Also, human activities don't increase the mosquitoes' population.

"This isn't one where you build a subdivision and start to see more," Kaufman said in the news release. 

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