If you squint your eyes a certain way, Florida begins to look like some holdover from the Triassic period, and we're not talking about the residents of Century Village.
The center of the state is overrun with huge pythons. Sharks coast the waters. The mammals on hand seem inclined to cannibalism. And now, to round out the menagerie, we've got big-ass, blood-hungry mosquitoes.
The critters are called gallinippers -- psorophora ciliata in nerdspeak -- and can grow to be about the size of a quarter, according to the Christian Science Monitor. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because the Sunshine State was flooded with an uptick of the suckers last year after heavy rains. Unfortunately, that precipitation has teed up the region for another round of infestation.
"I wouldn't be surprised, given the numbers we saw last year," University of Florida Professor Phil Kaufman said in a release from the school. "When we hit the rainy cycle, we may see that again."
In order to spread public awareness of the winged death in the offing, UF has posted a bunch of information online from the school's entomology department.
It's pretty much impossible to understand, but here's the CliffsNotes of what you need to know: These things bite humans. They hurt like hell. And, because they're Shaq-sized compared to your regular nonballin' mosquito, standard DEET treatment might not be enough to knock out the species.
You might think we're just getting a little overexcited, just some chronic keyboard pounders overreaching to the prospect of monster mosquitoes ruining picnics and beach volleyball and fishing retreats and romantic beach walks for people who can stand to be in the summer sun without immediately blistering up.
But no, we're not exaggerating. UF's own news release sums up the bugs like this: "If mosquitoes were motorcycles, the species known as Psorophora ciliata would be a Harley-Davidson -- big, bold, American-made and likely to be abundant in Florida this summer."*
*New Times' submission for the Most Kick-Ass Press Release Lede 2013.