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03/05/2013

Giant mosquito set to blight Florida for second summer

 

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University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman holds up the Psorophora ciliata, sometimes called the gallinipper, on the left.  (CREDIT: UF/IFAS photo by Marisol Amador)
So fearsome is the so-called shaggy-haired gallinipper, a monstrously large North American mosquito, that its larvae literally eat other mosquitoes' larvae for breakfast.

 

More importantly for humans, Psorophora ciliata, as it's scientifically known, snacks on us too. And how: scientists through the years have documented the mega-mosquito's "relatively intimidating heft and persistent biting behaviour," as two Florida researchers recount in an entomological bulletin.

 

Now one of those researchers, the University of Florida's Phillip Kaufman, is warning that the state might suffer the second summer in a row of spiked gallinipper numbers. 

 

“I wouldn’t be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year,” Kaufman said in a statement on the university's website. “When we hit the rainy cycle we may see that again.”

The gallinipper (which is not a scientifically recognized vernacular name for the psorophora ciliata, but don't let that stop you) spreads all the way from southern Ontario to Argentina. 

Females of the species have a wingspan of 6 to 6.7 millimetres, making it one of the largest known mosquitoes in the U.S. 

Kate Allen is the Star's science and technology reporter. Find her on Twitter at @katecallen.

 

 

Comments

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for me, i find their bite less irritating as the bite is more like a light pinch feeling than that maddening itch that most mosquito bites have.

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