What Are Gallinippers? Huge Mosquitoes Might Strike Florida

A gallinipper just might be one of the most ferocious insects most people have never heard of: Each is the size of a quarter and a bite by the insect has been compared with being stabbed by a knife.

Unfortunately, Floridians might have to face the vicious gallinippers this summer.

The Sunshine State has recently had to battle man-eating sinkholes, invasive Burmese pythons, swarming sharks, and, of course, tropical storms. Now it can add to the list an eruption of gallinippers (Psorophora ciliata), a type of giant mosquito, LiveScience reported.

The shaggy-haired bugs dumped loads of eggs last summer after Tropical Storm Debby, which could produce a huge number of blood-suckers this year should the state experience another rainy season, according to entomologist Phil Kaufman at the University of Florida.

"I wouldn't be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year," Kaufman said. "When we hit the rainy cycle, we may see that again."

Gallinippers are tough insects to kill. Even if the eggs don’t get the floodwater they need to hatch this year, they can remain dormant for years until they’re able to hatch, Kaufman said. The formidable creatures are capable of preying on tadpoles and other small aquatic prey when they’re in their larval stage.

The pests feed all day and night, unlike more or less regular mosquitoes, which are most active at dawn and dusk. And they can bite through clothing.

The vicious bugs will even bite fish, Fox 35 News Orlando reported.

"It's about 20 times bigger than the sort of typical, Florida mosquito that you find," Anthony Pelaez, the director of education at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, told Fox 35 News. "And it's mean, and it goes after people, and it bites, and it hurts."

Pelaez said the gallinipper’s painful bite "feels like you're being stabbed."

Join the Discussion