Brace yourself Florida, there is a "vampire" in your midst -- and this one is not afraid of the sun.
Thegiant psorophora ciliata mosquito, which is colloquially known as thegallinipper and is 20 times the size of your average mosquito, is set toplague south and central Florida this summer as the rainy seasonbegins.
While these monsters don't carry diseases, their intensebite can feel like a knife piercing your skin and leave you with anitchy welt for up to a week.
According to Deby Cassill, anAssociate Professor of Biology at Florida State University, these hairy,long-legged pests, originally thought to be from the Mississippi Delta,made their way to Florida after Tropical Storm Debby brought heavywinds and dropped a bucket load of water on the state last year.
The mosquitos, who migrated with the wind, laid eggs by the billionsin the standing water left from the storm, and this year, they are readyto hatch.
"Just like every other mosquito, the females arebloodsucking vampires trying to be good moms and get enough nutrients toproduce eggs and the next generation of mosquitos" said Cassill.
Whilethe mosquito season will only last a couple of months until the watersrecede, biologists worry about the monster's 24/7 eating habits.
"Mostmosquitos feed at dusk and dawn, but these feed all day long, and willeat right through your clothing," said Cassill. The females will feed onanything from cattle and dogs to human blood.
Cassill explainedthat there will be an alert if mosquito experts find evidence of agallinipper plague in any given location, but that urban areas are notespecially at risk since they already have established mosquito controlstrategies. Rural areas, on the other hand, will need to be on watch.Residents are asked to be on alert for a loud buzz and to keep theireyes peeled.
In the meantime, bust out the bug spray and DEET, asthey are your best line of defense, says Cassill, who also warns to becareful not to swat a just-fed gallinipper.
"If she's loaded with human blood, it will make quite the mess."