Gallinipper: All You Need to Know – Quick Facts and Prevention Tips

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Gallinippers, also known as Psorophora ciliata, are a species of large mosquitoes that can be quite a nuisance due to their aggressive biting behavior. These insects have gained notoriety for their size and painful bites, making them a topic of interest for those seeking to learn more about the insect world.

The gallinipper mosquito is characterized by its shaggy legs and is often referred to as the “meanest and most venomous” of all mosquito species. These mosquitoes are known to have a voracious appetite for blood and can deliver a painful bite that often leaves a more substantial welt than the average mosquito.

As a reader, it’s essential to know the behavior, habitat, and methods of controlling gallinippers so that you can protect yourself and others from their unpleasant bites. In the following sections, you will find information on these aspects and more to help you better understand these insects and minimize their impact. So let’s dive in and learn all we need to know about gallinippers.

What Is Gallinipper?

Classification and Scientific Name

The Gallinipper is a species of mosquito belonging to the class Insecta, order Diptera, and family Culicidae. Its scientific name is Psorophora ciliata.

Common Names

Apart from “Gallinipper,” this species is also known as the Shaggy-Legged Gallinipper. The term “Gallinipper” originated in the southeastern US and refers to large mosquitoes or insects with painful bites or stings1.

Appearance

Psorophora ciliata mosquitoes are known for their large size and distinctive features:

  • Shaggy legs
  • Painful bite
  • Aggressive behavior

These attributes distinguish Gallinippers from other mosquito species.

Habitat and Distribution

Geographical Range

The Gallinipper, also known as the Psorophora ciliata, is a large mosquito species found throughout the Eastern United States, extending from Quebec in Canada down to the southern regions of the country. It has been reported in states like Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.

Habitat Characteristics

Gallinippers prefer to breed in different habitats, such as:

  • Floodwater areas
  • Temporary pools
  • Ditches with vegetation

These mosquitoes are known to be more active during the daytime, in contrast to the nocturnal behavior of many other mosquito species. Some of the features that set Gallinippers apart include:

  • Their large size (almost 3 times bigger than other mosquitoes)
  • Painful bite due to their strong mouthparts
  • Aggressive behavior towards humans and animals

While Gallinippers are a nuisance, it is essential to understand their habitat and distribution to better manage their populations and minimize the potential risks they pose.

Life Cycle and Behavior

Larval Stage

  • Habitat: Gallinippers lay their eggs in moist soil, usually in areas prone to heavy rains and flooding.
  • Diet: Larvae feed on other mosquito larvae and small aquatic organisms.
  • Development: The larval stage has four instars before pupation.

In the larval stage, the Gallinipper (Psorophora ciliata), also known as the floodwater mosquito, is highly predacious. Larvae thrive in water that accumulates after heavy rains and feed on other mosquito larvae, helping control their population. They go through four instars before turning into pupae.

Adult Stage

  • Features: Large size, strong proboscis, hairy antennae.
  • Activity: Primarily active during daytime.
  • Mating: Short swarming behavior, females mate only once.

The adult Gallinipper is significantly larger than other mosquito species. Both males and females have a strong proboscis, although only females use it to bite humans and animals for blood meals. Their antennae are hairy, which differentiates them from other mosquito species.

Adult Gallinippers are primarily active during the day. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide and other chemicals released by humans and animals. Before biting, the female Gallinipper releases an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting, which may cause the bite to be more painful compared to other mosquito species.

Females require blood meals to develop and lay eggs, while males feed on plant nectar. Mating in Gallinippers involves a short swarming behavior, usually near dusk, and females typically mate only once in their lifetime.

Comparison Table: Gallinipper vs. Other Mosquito Species

Features Gallinipper Other Mosquito Species
Size Large (up to 1/4 inch) Smaller
Antennae Hairy Less hairy
Active time Daytime Nighttime
Biting pain More painful Less painful
Larval diet Predacious Filter-feeders
Habitat Floodwater areas Various, depending on species

Though Gallinipper mosquitoes can be a nuisance due to their painful bites, they somewhat benefit the environment by preying on other mosquito larvae during their larval stage, helping control mosquito populations. However, proper measures should still be taken to avoid their bites and prevent potential diseases.

Feeding Habits and Predation

Gallinipper Diet

Gallinippers are known for their aggressive and painful bites. These large mosquitoes feed primarily on the blood of mammals, including humans and animals. An interesting fact about their feeding habits is that they prefer to lay their eggs in soil or near stagnant water.

  • Blood-sucking insects
  • Prefer mammals as prey
  • Lay eggs in soil or near water

Predators of Gallinippers

Although gallinippers are large in size, with a wingspan averaging about 0.4 inches (1 cm), they still have their fair share of predators. According to the Entomological Society of America, their primary predators include:

  • Birds
  • Other insects
  • Aquatic invertebrates
Gallinipper Characteristics Typical Mosquito Characteristics
Large size (0.4-inch wingspan) Smaller size (0.2-inch wingspan)
Aggressive and painful bites Less aggressive bites
Predominantly mammal feeders Feed on a variety of hosts

These predatory relationships help keep gallinipper populations in check and maintain balance in their ecosystems. Despite their painful bite and formidable size, gallinippers serve as an important food source for other species.

Gallinippers in Florida

Impact of Gallinippers on Health

Gallinippers, also known as Psorophora ciliata, are large mosquitoes native to Florida. These mosquitoes emerge in significant numbers during the summer, especially after heavy rainfalls like those experienced during Tropical Storm Debby in Orlando.

  • Health effects:
    • Painful bite due to their large size
    • Not known to transmit diseases like smaller mosquitoes
    • Seasonal nuisance during summer months

Prevention Tips

To reduce the impact of gallinippers and other mosquitoes in Florida:

  1. Eliminate standing water: Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so dispose of containers, bird baths, and tires that could collect water.
  2. Use mosquito repellents: Apply products containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus for effective protection.
  3. Protect your home: Install screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

Dealing with Gallinippers

Despite their intimidating size, gallinippers can be controlled through various methods:

  • Professional pest control help: Contact local mosquito control agencies or the University of Florida for advice and assistance.
  • Natural predators: Encourage bats, spiders, and dragonflies to help control the mosquito population.

Pros and Cons of Gallinipper Control Methods

Method Pros Cons
Professional help Effective, access to expertise and resources Cost, dependence on external services
Natural predators Chemical-free, eco-friendly May not eliminate entire population

In conclusion, dealing with gallinippers in Florida requires a combination of prevention, repellent use, and control measures.

News and Community Awareness

Gallinippers, also known as Psorophora ciliata, are large mosquitoes that have recently been making headlines in the news. They are often discussed within Facebook groups and various community platforms due to their size and aggressive nature.

Facebook groups: Many people share their experiences, offer prevention tips, and express concerns about gallinippers in Facebook groups dedicated to mosquito control and awareness.

Lights: Gallinippers, like other mosquitoes, are attracted to lights. Using yellow “bug lights” in outdoor areas can help reduce their presence.

Here is a comparison table highlighting the differences between gallinippers and common mosquitoes:

Feature Gallinipper Common Mosquito
Size Up to 20 times larger Much smaller
Biting behavior More aggressive and painful bite Less aggressive
Larvae diet Feed on other mosquito larvae Feed on algae and plants
Activity time Most active during dusk and dawn Same as gallinippers

Some key characteristics of gallinippers include:

  • Distinctive feather-like legs
  • Stripes on their legs and thorax
  • Painful and aggressive bites

Pros of knowing about gallinippers:

  • Increased community awareness can lead to better prevention measures
  • People can protect themselves and their families from painful bites

Cons of gallinippers:

  • They can cause significant discomfort and even welts due to their bites
  • Their increased size and aggression can make them a bigger nuisance than common mosquitoes.

In conclusion, community awareness about gallinippers, including discussions on news outlets, social media platforms like Facebook, and websites such as bugguide.net can play a significant role in informing individuals about these mosquitoes and the best techniques for controlling them.

Footnotes

  1. bugguide.net

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Gallinipper

 

Gallinipper?
Location:  Virginia
June 22, 2013
I’m in Virginia and was shocked to find this huge mosquito. From what I can find on the web it is a gallinipper and has recently been spotted in Florida and Alabama. Can you confirm this?
Thanks again,
neanderpaul

Gallinipper
Gallinipper

Hi Neaderpaul,
We agree that this looks like a Gallinipper,
Psorophora ciliata.  According to BugGuide:  “The word gallinipper originated as a vernacular term in the southeastern US referring to ‘a large mosquito or other insect that has a painful bite or sting’ and has appeared in folk tales, traditional minstrel songs, and a blues song referencing a large mosquito with a ‘fearsome bite’ (McCann 2006).   However, the Entomological Society of America has not recognized ‘gallinipper’ or ‘shaggy-legged gallinipper’ as an official common name for Psorophora ciliata (ESA 2012).”  The data page on BugGuide shows the range as far north as Canada.
P.S.  Please use our standard submission form on the Ask What’s That Bug? link for future photo submissions.

Comment Courtesy of Angel van Gulik:  January 17, 2017
The other I was questioning was [this].
The coloration on the side of the thorax is atypical of the Psorophora ciliata, but it could be due to the lighting the picture was taken in.  Since I can’t see the top of the scutum to verify whether or not the golden mid-dorsal line is present, I can’t say for sure it isn’t.  Given the habitat and size, gallinipper is probably correct.

Letter 2 – Gallinipper

 

Subject: Large Mosquito
Location: Southern Kentucky
July 3, 2016 9:39 pm
We were sitting outside and had these biting us. They are huge. They could bite us through our jeans and shirts. Never seen any mosquitos this big. What kind is it? And are they native to this area?
Signature: Zach

Asian Tiger Mosquito
Gallinipper

Dear Zach,
This large Mosquito is a Gallinipper and according to BugGuide:  “The word gallinipper originated as a vernacular term in the southeastern US referring to ‘a large mosquito or other insect that has a painful bite or sting’ and has appeared in folk tales, traditional minstrel songs, and a blues song referencing a large mosquito with a ‘fearsome bite’ (McCann 2006).”  BugGuide also notes:  “Females bloodfeed day and night and are able to bite through heavy clothing. “

Asian Tiger Mosquito
Gallinipper

Letter 3 – Male Gallinipper

 

Subject:  Metallic mosquito
Geographic location of the bug:  Ohio
Date: 11/28/2017
Time: 12:58 AM EDT
Noticed this golden metallic looking mosquito with long legs on some Golden Rod   Would love to know  what type of insect this is. Thank You
How you want your letter signed:  Alane

Male Gallinipper

Dear Alane,
We believe this large male Mosquito is a Gallinipper,
Psorophora ciliata, based on this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “The word gallinipper originated as a vernacular term in the southeastern US referring to ‘a large mosquito or other insect that has a painful bite or sting’ and has appeared in folk tales, traditional minstrel songs, and a blues song referencing a large mosquito with a ‘fearsome bite’ (McCann 2006)” and “one of the largest mosquitoes in the U.S. Not known to vector any mosquito-borne pathogens.”  We are postdating your submission to go live to our site later in the month when our editorial staff is away for the holidays.

Letter 4 – Probably Gallinipper

 

Subject: huge brown mosquito
Location: Houston, TX
November 11, 2013 6:37 am
We ran in to a swarm of these huge brown mosquitos in Lake Houston Wilderness Park. They looked like and attacked like the usual varmints, but were maybe five times the size. A friend of ours said it’s the same type he saw in George Bush park a few days ago. What is this new-to-us creature?
Signature: Stephanie

Gallinipper, we believe
Gallinipper, we believe

Hi Stephanie,
Your photo lacks the kind of clarity needed for a definite identification, however, due to the large size, we believe this is a Gallinipper,
Psorophora ciliata, a native species reputed to have a very painful bite.  Because of the hard shadows, it appears that this photo was taken in broad daylight under sunny conditions.  It also appears the mosquito has striped legs, and for those reasons, we would not rule out that this might be an invasive Asian Tiger Mosquito.  Compare photos of the Asian Tiger Mosquito on BugGuide with those of the Gallinipper on BugGuide to try to determine which species you encountered.  Our money is still on the Gallinipper.

Yes, I believe that is the beast, thanks!  It was hard to concentrate on photography while being eaten 🙁

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Angel Robinson
    December 23, 2017 6:26 am

    This is more likely a Psorophora horrida based on the scutum coloration of yellowish scales laterally and the broad median longitudinal stripe of dark scales. The legs have more of a sleek look, as opposed to the shaggy appearance of a gallinipper, as well as a purplish hue to the legs with what appears to be white “socks” on the tarsomeres of the hindleg segments 4 and 5. It also fits the “golden metallic” look described by the submitter.

    Reply
  • My used to say that her mom called a different insect a gallinipper, which I later saw in a book is known as the crane fly, and since I’ve moved to Texas, I’ve found they are known as mosquito hawks. It surprises me to find that gallinipper is also a name for a mosquito.

    Reply

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