Huge Florida mosquitoes 20 times larger than the average insect are on their way for this summer, experts are warning.
Environmental officials in the Sunshine State say that Tropical Storm Debbie awakened the dormant eggs of a particularly huge species of mosquito, the galinipper. The female galinipper grows to considerable size and feeds at night.
The huge Florida mosquitoes are also a voracious feeder. They can reportedly penetrate through layers of clothing with an especially painful stinger.
The galinipper bite “feels like you’re being stabbed,” Anthony Pelaez of the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa told MyFoxOrlando. Palaez said he’s suffered man galinipper bites while working in the Amazon.
“It’s about the size of a quarter. … It’s about 20 times bigger than the sort of typical, Florida mosquito that you find,” Pelaez said. “And it’s mean, and it goes after people, and it bites, and it hurts.”
The huge Florida mosquitoes known as the galinipper actually made a debut last year, but this summer is expected to be even worse.
The galinipper is a floodwater mosquito, with females laying eggs near sources of water created by rainwater overflows. The eggs remain dormant for years, and are hatched when high water reaches them — like the water caused by Tropical Storm Debbie.
The also have a reputation for being particularly aggressive, with the female consuming blood while the male feeds on nectar.
Pelaez suggested that people wear lots of mosquito repellant, but for many Floridians it may not be necessary. Pinellas County extension agent Jane Morse noted that the galinipper prefers to live in grassy areas, so people who live in urban areas are safe from its painful bite
There could be a benefit to the huge Florida mosquitoes, though. The galinipper feeds on the larvae of the smaller species of mosquitoes, reducing that population. The galinipper also does not carry human diseases like the West Nile virus.