North Carolina’s Massive Problem With Giant Mosquitoes thanks to Hurricane Florence

 It’s the kind of buzz you don’t want to generate. Some of the largest mosquitoes in the world are landing and biting in the Tar Heel state and it’s all thanks to Hurricane Florence. An outbreak of blood-sucking mosquitoes called Psorophora ciliata, or “gallinippers,” is being reported in parts of the state hit hardest by flooding generated by the hurricane. That species of mosquito can grow three times larger than regular mosquitoes.

As expected, the ‘skeeters are creating a public nuisance as well as health concern. It’s also generating jokes that North Carolina has a new state bird. Social media is having a field day.

Gallinippers, or “shaggy-legged gallinippers” as they are also commonly known, are floodwater mosquitos that lay their eggs in low-lying areas with damp soil and grassy overgrowth. The eggs hatch after these areas flood, and within just six days the larvae can develop into adults.

Last week, Governor Roy Cooper ordered $4 million in funding for mosquito control measures in 27 counties that are under major disaster declarations from Hurricane Florence.

Michael Reiskind, an associate professor in North Carolina State University’s department of entomology and plant pathology, said floodwater mosquitoes do not transmit human disease but are simply a nuisance. Reiskind advises using insect repellent and wearing long sleeved clothing. However this species of mosquito can bit through one or two layers of cotton. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services offers some tips for dealing with the mosquitoes that can be found here.

 —Frank Graff 

Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on Sci NC, a weekly science series. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!