The Sunshine State is abuzz with reports of gallinippers, super-sized mosquitoes known for inflicting a knife-like bite.
Florida, the state often referred to as the insect capital of the U.S., has another six-legged fiend to deal with this summer: a giant, hairy-legged mosquito.
The monster mosquitoes, known as gallinippers, are up to 20 times the size of a regular bug and have swarmed central Florida after a spate of recent rain.
The pesky insects' eggs hatch after a rainstorm or flood and the state saw a jump in the numbers of galinippers last summer following Tropical Storm Debbie. Eggs laid back then, coupled with recent rains, could produce a bumper crop of the bugs this summer, entomologists say.
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Deby Cassill, a biologist at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, said the insect originates near the Mississippi River delta and with heavy rains during previous tropical storms migrated over to Florida.
"This thing is like a pterodactyl. In the mosquito world, it’s huge, and for me exciting; for most people, a little scary,” Cassill recently told Bay News 9.
Unlike other types of mosquitoes, the gallinippers do not carry disease, but they are voracious feeders and are known for a nasty sting that some say feels like a poke from a knife.
University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman told WKMG-TV the super-sized species is "notoriously aggressive."
Gallinippers are able to bite through clothing, so experts like Kaufman say the best defense is to cover up and to wear bug repellant with DEET, including over your clothes.
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