Psorophora ciliata is a large species of mosquito indigenous to the United States east of the continental divide. It is one of thirteen species of the genus which resides in the continental United States. The mosquito has been referred to as the “gallinipper” or “shaggy-legged gallinipper” due to its history of aggressive behavior. The Entomological Society of America does not classify those as official common names.
Synonyms of the Psorophora ciliata are Culex ciliata (Fabricius 1794), Culex conterrens (Walker 1856), Culex molestus (Weidemann 1820), Culex rubidus (Robineau-Desvoidy 1827), Psorophora boscii (Robineau-Desvoidy 1827), Psorophora ctites (Dyar 1918).
P. ciliata occur east of the Continental Divide. In North America, their range is from South Dakota south into Texas and east to Quebec and Florida. In South America, P. ciliata can be found in tropic or temperate environments.
P. ciliata are relatively large mosquitoes compared to other species within the genus with a wingspan of 7-9mm. Males and females are large and yellow-colored. The proboscis is yellow with black tip. The abdomen is pale with a paler tip. The thorax is dark brown with a thin, bright yellow stripe which goes down the middle with two dark stripes on each side. The most common way to tell the P. ciliata apart from other species is their banded “shaggy” legs. Like all mosquitoes, the males have bushy antennae and the females do not.
Not only are these mosquitoes vicious and aggressive towards humans and other animals as adults but, P. ciliata larvae are known for preying on other mosquito species' larvae and even tadpoles. Campos, Fernandez, and Sy found in their 2004 study that P. ciliata were frequent predators to the mosquito species Ochlerotatus albifasciatus in Buenos Aires, Argentina and impact the populations of O. albifasciatus. Females are aggressive, prefer to feed on large mammals, and are most active during spring and summer in woodlands or fields during the day or night. They lay eggs either as single eggs on moist soil or will lay an egg raft on top of ephemeral pools of water. Typically, females in the genus are capable of laying their eggs on dry or damp land to hatch months or years later, depending on the species.
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