America's very own tropical paradise is taking on the mantle of a grade-B horror movie of late. With monster sink-holes, giant Burmese pythons and strange lizards lurking in suburban neighborhoods, it would seem that things couldn't get any worse. But entomologists today are predicting an invasion of giant, quarter-size mosquitoes, called gallinippers, this summer.
The scientific name for these shaggy-haired insects is Psorophora ciliata. The use of the term gallinipper is not recognized by the scientific community. Gallinipper was made popular through southern folktales and songs, according to the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida.
These mosquitoes usually hatch after a flood or heavy rains, and that's exactly what happened after Tropical Storm Debby came through Florida last year. It is expected that eggs laid last summer will hatch this year, and with another wet season predicted, things could be bad.
The earliest known reference to the gallinipper dates back to 1897 by a writer who called the insect "the shyest, slyest, meanest and most venomous of them all." While the bite of this insect doesn't contain any venom, the pain is intense just the same.
Not only are they mean little buggers, but they have a voracious appetite, feeding day and night, unlike the mosquito we would normally see, feeding in the evenings. They are so hungry, the larvae will eat the eggs and larvae of other mosquitoes. They also may be resistant to insect repellents.