If a regular mosquito was a smart car, than the gallinipper would be a Mack truck.
It’s the goliath of all mosquitoes. A biting bug that is so terrifying that it has emptied entire schoolyards of screaming children.
They are called gallinippers because it is believed they can nip a gallon of your blood. The worst part is that they are expected to invade South Florida in big numbers this mosquito season.
What Is A Gallinipper?
We are headed to rainy season, and we all know that that means mosquitoes; and the largest blood sucking mosquito in the U.S. is the ‘Shaggy-Legged’ Gallinipper. The gallinipper, properly known as Psorophora ciliata, is easy to identify by its large size and the zebra-like pattern it has on it’s hairy legs.
Gallinippers favor cool shady areas with lots of standing water. These mosquitoes will lay their eggs in the soil, where they can remain dormant for several years before a heavy rain finally releases them. Adult gallinippers can fly upwards of two miles in search of a blood meal. Only female gallinippers bite, feeding on human or animal blood. They are also known to go after pets, wild animals and even fish. The voracious pests feed day and night–unlike everyday mosquitoes, which generally feed only at dawn and dusk.
The Gallinipper’s Bite
The most notorious characteristic of the gallinipper is it’s extremely painful bite. When it bites you, you know it! One bite victim likens a bite to that of a tiny drill; another victim referred to a gallinipper bite as a stabbing knife. The gallinipper’s bite is strong enough to bite through clothing. Since the mosquito is so big, you’ll likely feel the gallinipper land on you before it is able to pierce your skin with it’s massive proboscis.
The mosquito got it’s name because of the amount of blood it can drink at any one time–gallinipper because it can nip a gallon of blood. The truth is gallinippers drink nowhere near a gallon of blood at one time. A victim would have to be attacked multiple times, by a huge swarm of gallinippers, before you would lose a gallon of blood.
How Big Is The Gallinipper?
The gallinipper is twenty times bigger then the average mosquito; about the size of a quarter.
Palm Beach County Mosquito Control expert Gary Goode says “it really lets you know when it lands on you… It practically breaks your arm. It’s almost impossible for the gallinipper to sneak up on you.
Gallinippers Invading Florida
Every summer, depending on the rainfall, the Sunshine state braces for the swarms of mosquitoes that plague the state… including the gallinipper. The mosquito’s eggs that were laid last year could produce a bumper crop of the blood-sucking bugs this summer if Florida sees a soggy rainy season.
When the live gallinippers swarm, the phones start ringing off the hook at Palm Beach County Mosquito Control.
The gallinipper is found in the western most; flood prone, parts of Palm Beach County during the rainy season.
The Bad News About The Gallinipper
• Are huge and intimidating—20x larger than regular mosquito
• Feed on human and animal blood
• Painful bites
• Frequently emerge after rain—which Florida gets a lot of
• Mosquito repellent does little to ward off the gallinipper, mostly because you’d have to use an entire can of DEET bases repellent before the massive mosquito would ever notice it.
The Good News About The Gallinipper
• Don’t occur in great numbers in Central or South Florida
• Because of it’s size, it’s almost impossible for the gallinipper to sneak up on you
• Are not known to spread diseases like West Nile Virus
• Lifespan is only about a week
• Eat the larvae of their smaller mosquito cousins
• Continually sprayed by Florida mosquito control professionals to reduce numbers
The Truth About The Gallinipper
The reports by the local media have made it sound like swarms of gallinippers are attacking Florida residents, drinking gallons of blood, slaughtering people by the thousands. These reports sound like something out of a made for TV movie on the Syfy Channel.
Gallinippers do exist. They have painful bites. Florida residents might see one or two this rainy season. Like all other mosquitoes, they do require a consistent pest control strategy to control their populations.
The real truth is that gallinippers will not break your arm when they land on you, and they won’t drink a gallon of your blood. The term “gallinipper” isn’t recognized by most entomologists, but over the past century, the word — and the insect — entered popular legend through Southern folktales, minstrel shows and blues songs, according to a report from the University of Florida.