Sunny Florida remains a go to vacation destination for many Columbia, SC residents. The white beaches, the azure blue water and the local flavor within Florida’s cities and towns has always made it a popular place to leave all your cares behind. Floridians and those drawn to Florida already have a long list of the reasons they love the sunshine state. This summer there will be one notable addition to the list of things they aren’t so fond of called a Gallinipper.
What is a Gallinipper?
The proper name for a Gallinipper is a Psorophora ciliata. The term “gallinipper” isn’t recognized by most entomologists, but over the past century, the word, and the Gallinipper itself, entered popular legend through Southern folktales, minstrel shows and blues songs which spoke of a giant mosquito with a nasty bite according to a report from The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. This mammoth mosquito has a bite so painful it has become the stuff of legends with references of the mosquito going all the way back to 1897. It is also referred to as a monster mosquito, and a giant mosquito which are the best ways to describe this skeeter. A Gallinipper is roughly 20 times the size of a regular mosquito with an adult size comparable with that of a quarter! Physical characteristics of the Gallinipper include hairy back legs with zebra like patterns and yellow scales on the thorax of the insect.
This mosquito is feared because not only because of its enormous size but its aggressive feeding habits. Gallinippers feed day and night unlike the dusk to dawn biting mosquitoes we are accustomed to dealing with. Their bodies are strong enough to bite through clothing, and when you get bit by one of these giants it really hurts! Floridians who live in more rural, grassy areas that are prone to flooding are more likely to come in contact with these mosquitoes than city dwellers which is good news for tourism.
Psorophora ciliata is the largest known biting mosquitoes in the U.S. Even though these mosquitoes are normally seen in Florida, this year’s population prediction could make them more menacing than usual simply because of their sheer size and expected numbers. Gallinippers are floodwater mosquitoes which lay their eggs in low-lying areas with damp soil and grassy overgrowth. Tropical storms in Florida caused a record number of these mosquitoes last summer, whose eggs to lay in wait until this season. If these areas flood following a dry period, the eggs will hatch and produce very large numbers of adult mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are known to be so veracious even in their larval stage they will eat tadpoles, small aquatic prey and have even been reported to exhibit cannibalistic behavior and eat larvae of their own kind! This mosquito is not reported to carry any diseases that can be passed onto us or our pets. The only positive attribute of the Gallinipper is the fact they also feed on the larvae of other mosquitoes including the Asian tiger mosquito and other mosquitoes that are known vectors of mosquito-borne illness and disease. These mosquitoes prove the old adage that bigger is better wrong, but the silver lining is that an explosive Gallinipper population will help reduce the numbers of mosquitoes that could potentially make Floridians very sick.
Thankfully, here in Columbia, SC we don’t have to worry about coming into contact with this big, mean mosquito. Here on the home front we have the first line of defense in controlling and preventing mosquitoes covered. Mosquito Squad of Columbia can control and prevent mosquitoes on your property for the entire season with our safe and effective barrier spray program. It is safe, easy and it works!