Mega Mosquitoes: Why 'Gallinipper' Bites Feel 'Like Getting Stabbed' [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on June 10, 2013 1:14 PM EDT

mega mosquito
Florida’s mega mosquitoes are about 20 times larger than normal mosquitoes and much more painful. They’re known to be aggressive hunters, and their bite has been compared to getting stabbed. (Photo: YouTube/Screenshot)

Mega mosquitoes, whose bites "feels like getting stabbed," are scheduled to invade Florida this summer. As if sinkholes weren't enough to deal with, now Sunshine State residents have to fend off mutant insects.

According to Click Orlando, Florida's mega mosquitoes, called gallinippers or even "hairy-legged zebras," are about 20 times the size of a normal mosquito. Fox 35 reports that the mutant insect can penetrate through multiple layers of clothing and will bite anything from people to pets; they've even been known to feed on fish and tadpoles.

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Like other mosquitoes, only the female mega mosquitoes feed on animal blood. They feed day and night, using a saw-like jaw to drill down into a target's skin. The pain associated with a mosquito bite happens when the mosquito withdraws its straw-like jaw -- one researcher described it as "like pulling a hook out of the skin."

The mega mosquito's Florida assault is the result of major tropical events like last summer's Tropical Storm Debby and last week's Tropical Storm Andrea, which have roused the dormant mega mosquito eggs.

While the mega mosquito has already been spotted, most of them right now are just eggs sitting in dirt. But with the summer storm season approaching, flood waters are going to cause the mega mosquitoes to hatch.

"In an urban area, it's not really their habitat," one scientist told Fox 35. "But if you live near a pasture type of area, a grassy area that floods, than that's where you will see these mosquitoes most likely."

Another researcher told Fox 35 that the mega mosquito's bite is extremely painful and feels like a stab wound. "It's mean," he told Fox 35 of the mega mosquito. "It goes after people and it bites and it hurts."

According to National Geographic, mosquitoes hunt their targets by tracking exhaled carbon dioxide and body odor trails back to their source. They can also hone in on temperature and movement. When a female mosquito bites its victim, it penetrates the skin with two tubes. One tube injects an inhibitive enzyme that stops blood clots, and the other siphons blood from the body.

The blood is used to nourish the mosquito's eggs. Mosquitoes, whose lifespan ranges from two weeks to six months, breed in standing water. Even something as small as a bottle cap, if left undisturbed, can support mosquito offspring.

National Geographic reports that humans are not a mosquito's first choice for food. Rather, they prefer horses, cattle and birds to us. Another piece of good news is that the mega mosquitoes are not known to carry any dangerous diseases; when the mega mosquitoes do bite, it's just really, really painful.

Here's a few videos about the mega mosquitoes in Florida:

What's the best line of defense against Florida's mega mosquitoes? Probably a tennis racket.

And if that doesn't work, experts recommend bug spray that contains DEET. Also, here are some tips from Texas' Chambers County on mosquito control:

The first line of defense is to make sure that you are not breeding mosquitoes on your own property. Walk your yard and check for anything that is holding water. Anything that can hold water for 5 days or more is a potential mosquito breeding site.

Remember to clean your rain gutters! Blockages can cause water to stand in them long enough to produce mosquitoes. Fill in low areas in your yard or under your house if possible. Repair all water leaks as soon as possible. Even plastic sheeting can hold water in the folds and produce large numbers of mosquitoes. Remember, if you breed mosquitoes, you will feed mosquitoes.

Read more from iScience Times:

Mutant Mosquito Prepped For Key West Release

How minuscule mosquitoes survive blows with huge raindrops

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