Other Common Names
unofficial common name of 'shaggy-legged' or 'feather-legged gallinipper.'
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Psorophora ciliata (Fabricius)
Orig. Comb: Culex ciliata Fabricius, 1794
Explanation of Names
The word gallinipper originated as a vernacular term in the southeastern US referring to 'a large mosquito or other insect that has a painful bite or sting' and has appeared in folk tales, traditional minstrel songs, and a blues song referencing a large mosquito with a 'fearsome bite' (McCann 2006).
However, the Entomological Society of America has not recognized 'gallinipper' or 'shaggy-legged gallinipper' as an official common name for Psorophora ciliata (ESA 2012).
14 spp. (in 3 subgenera) n. of Mex.
Adult: Large mosquito! Winglength 6-6.5 mm, variable.
Adult: Very large mosquito, integument yellowish-brown, apices of tibiae and femora and some tarsomeres with broad, erect, black scales. Scutum with median stripe of golden-yellow scales, submedian stripe bare and shining.
Larva: to 10 mm in length, antenna less than 1/2 as long as head, labral brushes widely separated, pecten teeth with hair-like apex.
TX-FL-QC-NE / south to Argentina
Larvae in temporary and permanent pools, with grassy or wooded margins, in association with other mosquito species.
mostly: Jun-Sept (Apr-Dec in FL) (BG data)
Psorophora ciliata is one of the few mosquito species whose larvae are predaceous to other mosquito larvae.
Larvae: 2nd to 4th instar larvae predaceous on other mosquito larvae and aquatic invertebrates. First instar is typical filter-feeder. The larva is an active predator, chasing its prey. This is in contrast to Toxorhynchites larvae, which are ambush predators.
Adults: Males and females feed on nectar, females said to seek bloodmeals from large mammals. Females bloodfeed day and night and are able to bite through heavy clothing.
Psorophora ciliata female adults are primarily mammalian blood-feeders. An extensive study of Florida mosquitoes by Edman (1971) demonstrated that more than half of the blood meals detected from this species were from ruminants, and the rest from armadillos, raccoons, and rabbits. This mosquito will feed readily on humans and can be annoying in larger numbers (Howard et al. 1917). However, Wallis and Whitman (1971) conveyed that its status as a pest species may not be that important due to its relative rarity compared to other pest mosquito species.
Multivoltine in parts of their range, depending on rainfall. Overwinters as diapausing egg. Eggs can withstand desiccation.
one of the largest mosquitoes in the U.S.
The size alone is a distinguishing characteristic (Cutwa and O'Meara 2005) with only Toxorhynchites rutilus rutilus (Coquillett), Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis (Dyar and Knab), and Psorophora howardii Coquillett being of similar or larger size (King et al. 1960). Psorophora howardii is similar morphologically and has the same distribution (Darsie and Ward 2005) in the southeastern United States, but is encountered less frequently (King et al. 1960, Breeland et al. 1961).
Psorophora howardii, lacks median golden-yellow stripe.
Other Psorophora species lack erect scales on legs and are usually much smaller.
Toxorhynchites rutilis has curved proboscis and shining metallic scales.
- Ephraim V. Ragasa and Phillip E. Kaufman, University of Florida, 2012