In 1897 author David Flanery described an insect by saying it was “the shyest, sliest meanest, and most venomous of all.” Unfortunately, he was not talking about something out of a horror film, he was describing a mosquito! Mega-mosquito, that is. The “gallinipper” is a floodwater mosquito with a body about half an inch long, making it twenty times larger than the average mosquito, and while the bite doesn’t actually contain venom, it is said to be very painful. While this type of mosquito is nothing new, they’ve made a lot of headlines lately as Florida could be set for an overabundance of the unwelcome insect this season.
University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman says in 2012 the state had a surge of the huge, biting insects and there is concern of a repeat. “I wouldn’t be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year,” said Kaufman, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “When we hit the rainy cycle we may see that again.”
The female lays eggs in soil at the edges of ponds, streams and other water bodies that overflow when heavy rains come. The big problem with the gallinipper is their eggs can remain dry and dormant for years. All the eggs need to hatch is high waters to come along, like Tropical Storm Debby last year that brought on the surge of gallinippers. With those females having laid eggs, all it would take is one good rain for those dormant eggs to hatch. Even in their larval stage, gallinippers are so tough they’ll eat tadpoles!
The good news? These mosquitoes are not known to transmit any diseases so while they’re a nuisance, they’re not as dangerous as some other mosquitoes. The bad news? Kaufman stated that due to their size, these mosquitoes may be immune to insect repellents that contain the well-known ingredient DEET, meaning Florida residents will need to find an alternative to many of the off-the-shelf mosquito repellent products if they want to avoid a run in with these pesky fliers.
Will these mega mosquitoes become an issue in other parts of the U.S.? That may be the question in a lot of people’s minds as the press about gallinippers continues. Fortunately for communities with Mosquito Joe, the product used in our mosquito treatments IS effective on the gallinipper as well as your every day mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. We’re not in Florida yet but we’re planning to be there soon.
If Mosquito Joe is not in your area, why not become your community’s solution (and hero!) by opening your own Mosquito Joe business? We currently have franchise opportunities available across the U.S. Contact us for more information.
(UF/IFAS photo by Marisol Amador )