The largest blood-sucking mosquito in the United States is the Shaggy-Legged Gallinipper (Psorophora ciliata). If a regular mosquito was a Geo Metro, the gallinipper would be a dump truck. They are twenty times bigger then the common mosquito; about the size of a quarter. Gallinippers are easy to identify because of their size, and their hairy legs that are striped like a zebra. They are common in areas of South Florida during the rainy season.
The Gallinipper prefers cooler areas with lots of shade and standing water. Adult gallinippers lay their eggs in the soil, where they wait for a heavy rain to release their offspring. Female gallinippers can inflict a very painful bite as they feed on mammal blood. Bites feel like a tiny drill stabbing the skin. The gluttonous mosquitoes will feed day and night–unlike everyday mosquitoes, which generally feed only at dawn and dusk. The good news about these massive bloodsuckers– they will not transmit the West Nile Virus.
It’s believed that the gallinipper 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 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. Like all other mosquitoes, gallinippers require a constant pest control strategy to control their numbers.
*Note: The adult crane fly is also referred to as a gallinipper.