Break out the DEET; this is not your garden-variety skeeter.
As Florida braces for mosquito season this year, experts warn that some Sunshine State residents may soon have to deal with an increase in an unusually large, unusually aggressive and unusually painful "supermosquito" native to the eastern half of the United States, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Psorophora ciliata, known colloquially as "gallinippers," are notorious bloodsuckers that thrive in heavily flooded areas, according to University of Florida researchers.
Last year, Floridians in wet locales experienced a "bumper crop" of the inch-long species, and UF entomologist Phil Kaufman said that this rainy season, gallinippers may again descend on the region.
"It's about 20 times bigger than the sort of typical, Florida mosquito that you find," Anthony Pelaez of the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, told WOFL. "And it's mean, and it goes after people, and it bites, and it hurts."
While the insect's arguably fearsome reputation clearly precedes it, experts agree the gallinipper is a force to be reckoned with.
Doug Carlson, mosquito control director for Indian River County, told WPTV that the insects are so big, "it can feel like a small bird has landed on you." Meanwhile, Gary Goode of Palm Beach County Mosquito Control told WPBF the mosquito "practically breaks your arm" when it feeds on you.
Even the gallinpper's name sounds like the product of an American tall tale. Indian River County's Carlson explained that the insects allegedly got their moniker "because they're so big they can nip a gallon of blood with a single bite."
There is one sliver of good news, however. Gallinipers eat the larvae of their smaller cousins (as well as tadpoles), and they are not known to spread diseases, such as the West Nile virus, according to WOFL.
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