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Florida's 'giant mosquito invasion'

18 March 2013 09:15

Mosquito protection is a factor to consider before travelling abroad

Mosquito protection is a factor to consider before travelling abroad

Florida could be hit by another invasion of giant mosquitoes this summer, US scientists have warned. The huge insects commonly known as gallinippers - their scientific name is psorophora ciliata - descended on the Sunshine State last year and the same thing may be about to happen again, according to University of Florida (UF) experts.

Entomologist Phil Kaufman, an associate professor at UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said the onset of rainy weather is the time when the big biting bugs could reappear in large numbers. The warning underlines the importance of medical travel insurance for people heading to Florida during the rainy season.

The giant bugs are also referred to as floodwater mosquitoes, as they lay their eggs in soil at the borders of ponds and streams that overflow with water in heavy rain. They are native to the whole eastern side of North America.

As with all biting mosquitoes, the female gallinippers feed on blood and the males feed on flower nectar. "Even in the larval stage, gallinippers are fearsome. Most mosquito larvae are content to subsist on decaying plant matter floating in the waters where they develop, but gallinippers are omnivorous, devouring other mosquito larvae and even tadpoles," the scientists wrote.