How Big Do Mosquitoes Get?

July 16, 2013 in Trivia

A gallinipper and Asian tiger mosquito

To the left is the gallinipper mosquito, known for its large size and painful bite. At the right is the Asian tiger mosquito, which is more common in Florida. Source: Marisol Amador/UF/IFAS.

Summertime sometimes doesn’t mean the living gets easy, especially if you live around mosquitoes. As if dealing with mosquitoes is not unpleasant enough, mosquitoes are getting bigger according to scientists at the University of Florida.

Worldwide, the largest of mosquito species is toxorhynchites speciosus, which grow as large as 1.5 inches long. Also known as the “elephant mosquito”, they are found typically along the coastal areas of Australia. In the United States, Florida is encountering a particularly unpleasant runner-up: psorophora ciliata.

Daily Mail writer Katie Davies reports that mega-mosquitoes taking over areas of Florida in large numbers this summer are growing to the size of quarters.

Davies said, “The special breed of the nuisance bug, which can be 20 times bigger than the more familiar Asian tiger mosquitoes. This new breed is described as ‘notoriously aggressive’.”

Psorophora ciliata is commonly known the gallinipper mosquito. Typically these pests have half inch long bodies. Waters released by last summer’s tropical storm Debby are to blame for the breeding conditions that allowed for the gallinippers to breed into a threat this year. In north central Florida, they are expected to be especially annoying in the Paynes Prairie area. Their bites reportedly hurt much more than most mosquito bites, and the new breed can bite through clothing.

University of Florida experts advise how to protect oneself from mosquitoes.

University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman recently told the Gainesville Sun, “Because of the events last year, and the eggs laid, we can expect large numbers of these mosquitoes.

“We suggest people wear long-sleeve pants and shirts. Just doing that may not be enough for this type of mosquito; you’re going to have use one of the insect repellants to dissuade them from landing.”

Gallinippers are considered a floodwater mosquito, often laying eggs in low-lying areas with damp soil and grassy overgrowth. They are found throughout habitable areas of the United States east of the Continental Divide. Like the toxorhynchites, the gallinippers prey on other types of mosquito larvae.