Mega-mosquitoes which are the size of quarters are expected to take over areas of Florida ‘in large numbers’ this summer, scientists have warned.
The special breed of the nuisance bug, which can be 20 times bigger than common menacing Asian tiger mosquitoes, are described as ‘notoriously aggressive’.
They were handed the perfect breeding ground by last year’s tropical storms, according to scientists at the University of Florida, so are coming to a town near you.
‘Because of the events last year, and the eggs laid, we can expect large numbers of these mosquitoes again,’ Entomologist Phil Kaufman, an associate professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, told the Gainsville Sun.
‘It is quite capable of biting through my shirt.
‘We suggest people wear long-sleeve pants and shirts. Just doing that may not be enough for this type of mosquito; you’re going to have use one of the insect repellants to dissuade them from landing.’
‘The bite really hurts, I can attest to that,’ he told science site phys.org.
Psorophora ciliata, or Gallinipper mosquitoes as they are commonly known, have half inch long bodies and the same black-white color pattern of the more common Asian Tiger Mosquito with a wingspan of 6-7 millimeters.
Because of their size they are often able to withstand common repellants.
The hurricanes of last year brought large numbers of the insects to the Central and South Florida area which laid dormant eggs in the soil near ponds and streams.
Now scientists are predicting heavy rainfall will come again and cause the eggs to hatch – releasing the super-sized bugs in large numbers.
THE ASIAN TIGER MOSQUITO
Size: 2 – 10mm but males are much smaller than females
Bite: Only the bigger females feed on blood. Bites are itchy and can be serious in people who suffer a reaction but can also be fairly minor. They can carry serious diseases such as Dengue Fever
Appearance: Black and white shiny striped bodies
Location: In 866 counties in 26 states. Mostly in the Southeast but also Texas.
THE AMERICAN GALLINIPPER
Size: Body alone is half an inch long with a wingspan of 6-7 millimeters
Bite: ‘Persistent biting behavior’ and their bite is much more painful. They can also bite through light material but like other mosquitoes only the females bite
Appearance: Also black and white striped
Location: The east of the U.S. but they are predicted to be highly prevalent in central Florida this summer.
One plus point to the bugs, which are native to the eastern half of North America, is they don’t carry diseases dangerous to humans like some of their smaller counterparts.
Like Asian tiger mosquitoes they are less common in urban areas and tend to be found near floodwater where they hatch.
‘Down near Paynes Prairie, you are more likely to have more numbers than Main Street Gainesville,’ Professor Kaufman added.
It is only females that bite with male Gallinippers feeding on flower nectar.
They also feed on other mosquito larvae and even tadpoles and are most active at dusk and dawn.
‘When you read the historical accounts of the first European settlers in the Southeast and they talked about gigantic mosquitoes, this was one they were talking about,’ Professor Kaufman added
Attribution: Katie Davies, Mail Online