Mosquitoes the size of quarters are expected to take over areas of Florida this summer “in large numbers” after scientists discovered many eggs are set to hatch in the next few months.
This breed of the normal mosquito, referred to as “mega-mosquito,” is up to 20 times larger than the common Asian tiger ones. They are also described as “notoriously aggressive.”
Researchers think they formed after having the perfect breeding ground from last year’s tropical storms.
“Because of the events last year, and the eggs laid, we can expect large numbers of these mosquitoes again,” Entomologist Phil Kaufman said. “It is quite capable of biting through my shirt.”
He said they suggest people cover their bodies with long shirts and pants, but even doing that might not repel them.
“Just doing that may not be enough for this type of mosquito; you’re going to have to use one of the insect repellants to dissuade them from landing. The bite really hurts, I can attest to that,” he said.
Officially named Psorophora ciliata, or Gallinippers, they have half inch long bodies and similar patterns to those of the Asian Tiger Mosquito.
Even some common repellants can’t prevent them from biting as they are so large.
Hurricanes from last year brought hundreds of them to the Central and South Florida area, where they laid dormant eggs in the soil near ponds and streams.
Scientists believe heavy rainfall this spring will cause the eggs to hatch.
The only good thing about this type of mosquito, which is native to the eastern half of North America, is that they do not carry dangerous diseases like the smaller ones do.
They’re also only found near floodwater and are less common in urban areas.
“Down near Paynes Prairie, you are more likely to have more numbers than Main Street Gainesville,” Kaufman said.
Just like the tiny mosquitoes, female Mega-Mosquitoes are the only ones that bite, as the male ones feed on flower nectar.
They 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 the one they were talking about,” Kaufman said.