Brett Blume

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KMOX) –  We don’t have to worry about gallinippers — those economy-sized mosquitoes set to invade the rainy Florida panhandle — arriving in our area.

Turns out they’re already here.

“We saw quite a number of them after the 1993 flood along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers,” explains Linn Haramis, entomologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “They tend to appear in numbers after heavy flooding.”

Haramis goes on to say that’s why this species of mosquito, which prefers the woodlands, have been especially scarce during the ongoing drought.

Gallinippers, which go by the scientific name of Psorophora ciliata, are said to be about the size of a quarter with a painful bite that’s been described by some as getting stabbed with a knife.

To prove that gallinippers are nothing new to our neck of the woods, Haramis pulls out a textbook published way back in 1965 that contains the following description: “One of the largest Illinois mosquitoes, the Gallinipper is a half-inch in size or larger, is a vicious biter, and is widely distributed over Illinois”.

Even an active nature trekker and mosquito collector such as Haramis says he’s “rarely” encountered the super-sized bloodsucker in the field.

About the only positive thing about gallinippers, from a human point of view, is that their young feed on the larvae of smaller mosquito species, helping to hold down their population during times of heavy rain or flooding.

“It’s simply a species that’s adapted to a particular niche in nature,” Haramis says. “They’re exploiting a certain slot in nature. It’s obviously not a very viable one or their numbers would be greater.”

Perhaps something that local mosquito-haters can be thankful for, after all.

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