Mosquitoes After Florence Are As Big As ...
Mosquitoes bite in more ways than one. But you know what’s worse than normal mosquitoes? Giant mosquitoes, and they’re swarming the areas of North Carolina hit hardest by floodwaters from Hurricanes Florence and Michael.
All of the extra standing water has created a favorable breeding ground for Psorophora ciliata, more commonly known as Gallinipper, an extra-sized mosquito which usually enjoys damp, grassy areas. But the storms have attracted them to residential areas, impacting cleanup efforts and causing concern among people and their pets.
“They lay their eggs on moist or damp soil, and they usually hatch months to a year later when rain creates water pools,” says Josh Benoit, Entomologist at the University of Cincinnati. “Flooding creates many active water pools at the same time, so the mosquitoes all hatch at once. Then, you have a lot more than you normally would.”
About the Gallinipper Mosquito
Gallinippers are two to three times the size of ordinary mosquitoes, about the length of a penny. In addition to their alarming size, they’re also known for their black and white-striped legs.
When it comes to feeding, they prefer larger animals like livestock and deer. Humans, however, are still on the menu.
“They don’t really transmit disease that are important for people, such as West Nile Virus, though,” Benoit says. “They’re just big and scary.”
So, common mosquito-transmitted diseases like malaria or Zika aren’t a concern with giant mosquitoes, which is good news. The bad news is that their large size means a larger bite, which coincidentally could hurt far worse than the average mosquito’s attack.
Another interesting bit? They feed on other mosquito larvae while they are themselves in the larvae stage, so in a way they keep other mosquito populations under control. As for their increased numbers, they should fall back to normal and then disappear with the receding flood waters and cooler weather. But since Hurricane Michael will bring more water, those normal numbers are further into the future than the state needs.
North Carolina’s Action Plan
The dizzying numbers of giant mosquitoes in post-Hurricane Florence North Carolina are too much for individuals to tackle themselves. Spraying pesticides in yards only works if every single household and public area does the same thing. Otherwise, mosquitoes will simply move elsewhere and then return, especially since more mosquitoes are predicted to hit the area after Hurricane Michael.
Governor Roy Cooper has ordered $4 million in state funds to be used to spray the hardest-hit areas of the state, 27 counties to be exact.
Fighting Mosquitoes on a Personal Level
- Cover Up: The best way to keep mosquitoes off of your skin is by covering up. If you have to go outdoors in mosquito-inhabited areas, cover your arms and legs. Pants and long-sleeve shirts are the best protection. And then spray your skin and your clothes with mosquito repellant.
- Spray Away: Dead mosquitoes can’t bite, so Zevo Instant Action Spray can help control mosquitoes and can safely be used around people and pets when used as directed.
- Keep it Dry: As for preventing more mosquitoes from being born, get rid of any standing water—that’s where most breeds of mosquitoes lay their eggs. Anything from tarps to dog bowls to swimming pools can provide mother mosquitoes with an optimal place to lay eggs.
With additional storms on the horizon, and other areas of the U.S. experiencing more rain than usual, mosquitoes are sticking around longer than they used to. Make sure you have what you need to keep mosquitoes of all sizes from pestering your loved ones.
“Giant mosquitoes emerge in North Carolina post-Florence"on CNN.com
Josh Benoit, Entomologist at University of Cincinnatti