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Posted on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor's heavy summer rains 'ideal' for big, biting gallinipper mosquito

By Amy Biolchini


University of Florida entomologist Phil Kaufman shows the size difference between a small invasive Asian tiger mosquito, right, and the native species Psorophora ciliata, sometimes called the gallinipper, at left. Last June, Florida had a bumper crop of gallinippers due to widespread rains from Tropical Storm Debbie, and Kaufman says it’s possible the state will see a repeat this summer. Female gallinippers lay their eggs in soil around low spots that are periodically flooded; the eggs hatch when heavy rains come.

Marisol Amador | Courtesy of UF/IFAS

Heavy rainfall in Ann Arbor this summer has made for perfect conditions for floodwater mosquitoes -- including the noticeably bigger and debatably more painful gallinipper mosquito, experts say.

“This is an ideal year for the gallinipper,” said Ned Walker, an professor in Michigan State University's Department of Entomology and Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

A species native to Michigan, the gallinipper is about as large as a crane fly and is typically a "big surprise" when they land on you, Walker said.

Gallinipper is the more colloquial name given to the Psorophora ciliata mosquito. This summer, Florida researchers have already warned conditions are ripe for a large crop of gallinipper mosquitoes in their state.

The mosquito last made a strong showing in the Ann Arbor area during the wetter summer of 2011.

"They're a floodwater mosquito, but their larvae are predators on other mosquito larvae," Walker said.

Floodwater mosquitoes, including the gallinipper, lay their eggs in dry areas of a flood plain.

The eggs hatch about seven to 10 days after a major rainfall event, and it takes about two weeks for people to notice an increase in the bloodthirsty population, Walker said. Their lifespan is about three weeks long.

There can be many generations of floodwater mosquitoes in a single summer, as the insects rely on periods of dry and wet weather between storms to be able to lay their eggs in wet meadows, low-lying areas, roadside ditches along highway corridors and along railroad beds.

After this April -- which resulted in nearly the wettest month reported for Michigan -- there was a large hatch of floodplain mosquitoes. Walker said the event was rare, as the last time floodplain mosquitoes hatched in those quantities was in 1994.

Floodplain mosquitoes are similar to the more common floodwater mosquitoes, but they lay their eggs at a higher part of the flood plain and some species have eggs that can last up to eight years.

Washtenaw County does not track its mosquito population, and there are few experts in the state that monitor the weather and population trends.

Bay County is one of the only counties in Michigan that closely tracks its mosquito population and employs abatement measures if needed.

Mary McCarry, biologist for Bay County Mosquito Control, said she has been seeing heavy populations of floodwater mosquitoes this summer.

"They emerge as adults from flooded areas -- from ditches, fields, woodlots," McCarry said. "They're the biggest pest in the state."

Last year, drought conditions meant the gallinipper and other more common floodwater mosquitoes had smaller populations, while the Culex mosquito -- the type known for carrying West Nile virus -- thrived.

Walker said the numerous rainstorms have meant the Culex populations will be lessened considerably this year.

"Our model predicts that hot, dry weather favors West Nile virus and cooler and weather does not," Walker said.

The Culex mosquito often lays its larvae in human-made areas -- including catch basins and abandoned swimming pools, as well as retention and detention ponds that collect water underneath large impermeable surfaces like parking lots.

Washtenaw County Public Health takes reports of dead birds in the summer months, as mosquitoes are the vector species that transmit West Nile virus from birds to humans. The health department also records the number of human cases.

To date this summer, there have been no reports of human cases of West Nile virus in the county.

  • To report a dead bird, call the county's West Nile virus hotline at (734) 544-6750 or use the state's website

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

We have found that by spraying ourselves and the woods we travel in, the mosquitoes seem to stay away. So, for now? Bug spray yourselves and if you seem em coming? Spray them too. I also carry a large spray container of bug spray. Works every time since no one sprays anymore.

Ryan Poll

Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 3:57 a.m.

I had one in my front yard in Ann Arbor. When you smack it will come back for you. I had to hit it hard to kill it. I have encountered one of these before back in the 1990s in Jackson county MI. You totally do a double take when it lands on you because you are not expecting a mosquito of that size to even exist. Tiger stripes are very easy to determine when you see it.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

Wow. thanks for the heads-up Ryan, My fist 1~~gallinipper 0!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 8 p.m.

Let's hear it for our friends the bats! Bats are insectivores and they just looooove a nice juicy mosquito. Have at the little beasties, my winged friends!! feast on the little monsters!


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:01 a.m.

i saw one , in fact i have a picture of it, i dont know how to up load it though


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:42 a.m.

I saw some of these in my backyard two weeks ago and warned my kids about them. Two years ago there were a lot of them around our neck of the woods. We live on Warner Rd and Warner Creek runs behind our property.

Stewart G. Griffin

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

After being out in my backyard for a brief moment yesterday evening and getting devoured, I'm convinced the only thing left to do is to call in the jets and start dropping napalm. That'll teach those little bastards. It was so bad, I started having flashbacks, man.....


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

Oh my! As big as a baby sparrow. Go figure!


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

Talk about a blood drive. These things are going to put the Red Cross to shame.

An Arborigine

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

I'll be sure to keep my galli undercover to avoid these nippers!

John of Saline

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Great. Giant mosquitoes. And just when I was having my anti-aircraft cannon repaired, too.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

I have a salt gun made for flies. Good to 3 feet. My guess, this might work for these pests.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

I have never understood why dead birds are only seen when they have died of West Nile. Or at least that is the assumption in the direction to report dead birds to the Health Department. What about all the birds that must die of old age or other causes? Help me out here. Thanks.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

Crows, turkey buzzards and other carrion eaters probably clean a lot of them up.

Lynn Liston

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:24 a.m.

Susan, I share your puzzlement. Why aren't we knee deep in dead birds, given how many of them there are?

Dennis Rice

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

The Washtenaw County Conservation District DOES carry Mosquito Barrier, a garlic-based product that is poison free and safe around children and pets when used as directed. It is not currently listed on our web site (, but that will be rectified soon. Mosquito Barrier can be purchased at the District office, 7203 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor, located 1/4 mile east of Baker Rd. on 3-Ls Dr. It is available in 1 qt. and 1 gallon size concentrate--$24 for the quart, $80 for the gallon.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 5 p.m.

So we need to roll in garlic or hang garlic around our necks when we walk the woods? Interesting. Guess I need to make a huge investment next time I go camping.

An Arborigine

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

As an added bonus, it discourages vampires as well!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

On the plus side, the way things are going ecologically there's a good chance these things will be extinct before we can invent something toxic to spray at them.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

Keep in mind that "bug-zappers" are worse than useless. These electric grids with the a black light that are supposed to attract and kill mosquitos and other biting flies don't attract mosquitos, but do attract and kill insects that eat flies, plus lots of other harmless insects that are good for the environment. Also, when insects do land on them, they explode. This creates a mist of fine particles, including bacteria and viruses and allergenic bits of insect, that can spray 7 feet from the zapper. So don't put the zapper near your picnic table, or better yet, don't have one at all. There are mosquito traps that do (sort of) work. These are the ones that use heat and carbon dioxide to lure in the biters.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

Nope! Fun to watch. Good entertainment.

Ron Burgandy

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

Mosquitos? They suck!

Ron Burgandy

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

Really???? There was actually someone who voted my comment down???? Makes you wonder who could actually be pro-mosquito and offended by my somewhat witty but harmless comment??


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

For what it's worth, there is a non-toxic mosquito repellent for sale that you can spray around your yard or other grassy areas. It's made from garlic, and supposedly the chemicals in it cause mosquitos to stay away from the area. I'm trying it out this year. It has a strong smell when wet, but none after it dries. I don't know yet how effective it is. The manufacturer has a long string of endorsements, so we'll see. Here's the company website with more information: You can order the product online, and apparently the English Gardens store in the Maple Village shopping center on Maple Road has it too. Our county Conservation District has sold it in previous years, but it's not on their website this year.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

Oh - and it keeps vampires at bay.

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Can please work in an Edit Button As I meant kept not keep

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Garlic has always keep bloodsuckers away...that & a cross


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Oops. Turns out the Conservation District is selling Mosquito Barrier, and deer/rabbit repellent. It's listed in their newsletter but not (yet) on their website. Here's their site with information on their office location and hours, and the other cool things they do:

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

While I haven't seen a gallinipper mosquito in person, I can vouch for the prevalence of the floodwater mosquito in the area this summer. I forgot to bring my bug spray during a hike this weekend in a state recreation area and was almost immediately swarmed once we got on the trail. How annoying have mosquitoes been for you this summer?


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

Why do I think of Gomer Pyle when I hear Gallinipper? Well gaaaaa leeee little niper.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

I agree. It takes me weeks to heal from the itching bites.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

It's been awful for my family. I'm not a mosquito magnet, but just last night they acted like I was a buffet - and that was after I sprayed. My kids are getting hit hard, too.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

My family has literally holed up inside our house for weeks. We would get swarmed instantly anytime we stepped outside, even just to get yhe mail. It's been horrible!!!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Gallinipper nothing! re-name these little beasties "galli-chewer"!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

Has anyone actually seen one of these in Ann Arbor?

Ryan Poll

Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 3:51 a.m.

Yes on Monday of this week I had one attack me. I swatted it and it came back after me. I found me rather quickly I went out to look at my pumpkin crops in my front yard of my house and it latched on to me. Normal mosquitos take about 5 mins to find me but this one latched on to me as I was walking.

Ann English

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

AA__Johnny, Those mosquitoes look as large as crane flies. But crane flies don't bite us. I've read that crane flies eat mosquito larvae. Now if they'd ALSO eat the larvae of THESE mosquitoes, too, gallinipper numbers could stay down; I'm not sure if our nocturnal bats can eat these giants, like they do regular-sized mosquitoes every night.

Ann English

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Where were you, in the Waterloo Recreation Area, hunting? That's close to Chelsea.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

Yup. Got bit my one of those things this morning. Thought I was seeing things, it was so large.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

I'd never seen nor heard of them until summer 2011 when I "met" them outside of Chelsea. And I thought "regular" mosquitos were bad!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

I'm not in Ann Arbor, but I'm in Ypsilanti township. I have a wetlands conservation easement with a shallow lake behind my house and see these often (even when conditions are not considered ideal).

Bertha Venation

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Oooohhhhhhh.... so THAT'S what those red bumps are on my chest.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

Oh, maybe. Where were you last night?

Annette Poole

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

Ugh, just what I need... normal sized mosquitoes seem to love my A- blood anyways. I'm guessing these ones will think I'm a buffet.

Ryan Poll

Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 3:48 a.m.

Drink whiskey. They dont like you shortly afterwards.

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

These are the new state bird


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

More like the governments secret new weapon.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

Yes! And I thought they were baby sparrows.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

i know two people who had severe allergic reactions to insect bites this week. Could this mosquito be the culprit?

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

The sidebar to this story says Washtenaw County has five cases of West Nile virus. You may want to update.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

The five cases of West Nile virus were reported in 2012. That sidebar is appearing now because I've tagged the story with "West Nile virus" -- and that 2012 story reporting the five cases was the last article written with that tag.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

That was last year.