Bug Expert: Florida Facing Big Mosquito Problem

Gallinipper mosquito

University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman says last year the state had a bumper crop of Psorophora ciliata: huge, biting insects, which are sometimes called gallinippers. He said there may be a repeat on the way.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year,” said Kaufman, a UF/IFAS associate professor. “When we hit the rainy cycle we may see that again.”

The gallinipper is a floodwater mosquito, with females laying eggs in soil at the edges of ponds, streams and other water bodies that overflow when heavy rains come. The eggs can remain dry and dormant for years, until high waters cause them to hatch, Kaufman said.

Last June, Tropical Storm Debby caused flooding in many parts of Florida and unleashed large numbers of gallinippers, along with other floodwater mosquitoes.

Native to the entire Eastern half of North America, the insect has a body about half an inch long, with a black-and-white color pattern that makes it resemble a super-sized version of the invasive Asian tiger mosquito.
As with other biting mosquitoes, only the female gallinippers are blood feeders; males survive on flower nectar. The species is notoriously aggressive and has a painful bite. “The bite really hurts, I can attest to that,” Kaufman said.

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. With that trait in mind, observers have suggested the gallinipper might be a good candidate for biological control efforts, using the larvae to reduce populations of other pest mosquitoes. But that strategy has a fatal flaw – it results in more gallinippers. 

Gallinippers can be warded off with repellents containing DEET, though Kaufman said that due to their large size they may be more tolerant of the compound than smaller biting mosquitoes.
It isn’t considered a significant vector of mosquito-borne illness affecting people or animals.

To help understand the species better, Kaufman and UF/IFAS entomology graduate student Ephraim Ragasa created a document on gallinippers, which is now available at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in967.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
Cartoon sketch of a citrus seed machine
Varieties & Rootstocks
February 22, 2017
Citrus Nurseries Analyze the Need for Seed
It seems many growers are more certain about their scion choices than they are about available rootstocks. Read More
citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
IMPAC.org screenshot
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Farmers Win Over Consumers
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Brussels Sprout on a fork
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities for Florida Farmers
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
John Merritt
Citrus
February 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Community Loses Longtime Leader to Leukemia
John Merritt, known as an innovative grower and staunch industry advocate, was 60. Read More
Grower Jonathan Brown of Bethel Farms inspects his citrus grove.
Citrus
February 9, 2017
Florida Citrus Forecast Comes Full Circle With Latest Update
Amid up-and-down pattern, USDA puts all-orange production numbers back on target with initial estimate. Read More
Load of pot poorly camouflaged as Key limes
Citrus
February 8, 2017
Nearly Two Tons of Pot Plucked From Load of Key Limes
Shaped to resemble the tangy citrus fruit, law enforcement officials extract 34,764 packages allegedly filled with an ingredient not intended for pies. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
February 25, 2017
Citrus Research Investments Yielding Pos…
Despite still having mounds of wood to chop, grower, federal, and state programs collectively are making a dent. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Suck…
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture…
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities…
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
Citrus
February 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Community Loses Longtime …
John Merritt, known as an innovative grower and staunch industry advocate, was 60. Read More
Citrus
February 9, 2017
Florida Citrus Forecast Comes Full Circl…
Amid up-and-down pattern, USDA puts all-orange production numbers back on target with initial estimate. Read More
Citrus
February 8, 2017
Nearly Two Tons of Pot Plucked From Load…
Shaped to resemble the tangy citrus fruit, law enforcement officials extract 34,764 packages allegedly filled with an ingredient not intended for pies. Read More
Citrus
February 5, 2017
New Product Helps Bees Brush Off Mites
A British company developed Bee Gym, distributed by Vita Ltd. Read More
Citrus
February 3, 2017
Wonderful Citrus Stakes a Major Claim in…
Acquisition of the largest citrus marketer in Florida makes California company the crop’s top grower, shipper, and packer in the U.S. Read More
Citrus
February 2, 2017
Florida Seeking to Fete More Eco-Innovat…
Nominations open for the Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Award. Read More
Citrus
February 2, 2017
University of Florida Celebrating a Cent…
Cheers all around for UF/IFAS' CREC, the largest facility in the world devoted to a single commodity. Read More
Citrus
January 30, 2017
List of Best College Farms Released
Website evaluated farms on sustainability factors, community programming, and courses available at the university or college farm, not just in the classroom. Read More
Citrus
January 30, 2017
Game Far From Over for Florida Citrus
Attendees of the 2017 Florida Citrus Show convene to commiserate over current challenges, vet future wins via new varieties. Read More
Citrus
January 25, 2017
Ban Lifted on USDA News Releases
Acting USDA deputy administrator says the practice is typical with new administration changes. Read More
Citrus
January 25, 2017
USDA-ARS to Halt Publishing News Release…
News media confirm report. Read More
Citrus
January 24, 2017
Trump Withdraws U.S. From Trans-Pacific …
Fresh produce export market to hit a wall with signing of executive order. Read More
Citrus
January 20, 2017
Farming Will Always Have a Place in Flor…
Growers are resilient and agriculture will survive in our state and elsewhere. It has to, if we want food on our plates. Read More