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Giant mosquitoes nicknamed ‘Gallinippers’ found in Ontario

Watch: Mega mosquitoes found in Ontario. Carey Marsden reports. 

TORONTO – It isn’t just your overactive imagination: Those are giant mosquitoes out there.

The species ‘Psorophora ciliata’ is about 20 times the size of most common mosquitoes and have been spotted this summer from the Ottawa to Niagara Region, all the way down to Windsor.

“Because of their size they are definitely a little more potent in their bite, you can feel them quite readily,” said Mark Nelder, senior program specialist at Public Health Ontario.

Health experts say this type of mosquito is native to North America and can be found mostly on the eastern seaboard. In recent years, they have started making its way up north due to warmer and more humid temperatures.

READ MORE: Why some Canadians are more prone to mosquito bites than others

Nelder completed his doctorate degree in South Carolina where this species is quite common. He confesses these creatures are intimidating.

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“They readily bite through your clothes, your socks, which a lot of mosquitoes don’t do,” he said. “It’s bad, definitely like a big needle prick for sure.”

“They usually tend to feed on large mammals – cows, horses – so when we get bitten by them we surely feel them.”

The name “Gallinippers” is derived from  the word “Gally”, an English verb meaning “to scare” or “to frighten,” and became associated with various biting insects in the West Indies during the 1600s and 1700s before its use spread to the United States.

The good news about these aggressive mosquitoes is that they don’t pose any immediate health risk to human beings.

“Different pathogens have been detected in Gallinippers, especially down in the southern U.S.,” Nelder said. “West Nile has been detected in it and a variety of different viruses, but so far there’s been no demonstration that they can pass these viruses to humans.”

Another cause for relief is that these insects are found mostly in rural areas and not in large urban centers like Toronto.

“They like to lay their eggs in ditches, irrigation ditches on farms, sometimes in temporary pools and forested areas,” Nelder explains.

As with many blood-sucking insects, the best protection against these pesky critters is to cover up your extremities and to wear proper bug repellent with deet.

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