It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a shaggy-legged gallinipper! The post-Florence super-sized insects can reportedly bite through two layers of cotton.
As if to add insult to injury, the malevolent gifts of Hurricane Florence keep coming – this time in the form of swarms of wasp-sized mosquitoes that have stormed the state.
That mosquitoes may revel in flood-ravaged areas doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but the size and numbers currently seen in North Carolina are striking. This batch of biters is called Psorophora ciliata, or “gallinippers,” or even better yet, “shaggy-legged gallinippers” – a wonderfully Dr Seuss-y name surely at odds with the actual experience of being swarmed by a blizzard of them.Various news reports have them at anywhere from three to twenty times larger than regular mosquitoes – and Newsweek puts the number at “billions.”
One resident said “It was like a flurry – like it was snowing mosquitos,” another said it was like “a bad science fiction movie.” In the video below a child asks, “Why are you doing that – taking pictures of the wasps?” … to which a woman replies, “They’re not wasps, baby, they’re mosquitoes.”
Of the 61 species of mosquitos in North Carolina, NCSU entomology professor Michael Reiskind says that “15 to 20 would be highly responsive to floodwaters.” After flooding, the eggs hatch and a big baby boom occurs. He added that they can bite through one or two layers of cotton clothing "pretty easily."
If there’s a bright side, it might be that, thankfully, these mammoth mosquitoes do not transmit human disease. Nonetheless, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has directed $4 million to support mosquito control efforts. In the meantime, may the bats be busy and may the shaggy-legged gallinippers soon fade from memory, cute name and all.