Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Scott’s decision to kill FAMU mosquito lab coming back to bite Florida

A breed of  giant, “monster” mosquitos is expected to infest Florida this summer. The psorophora ciliate, better known as the “gallinipper,” is highly aggressive and can bite through clothing.

Thanks to the veto pen of Gov. Rick Scott, Florida no longer has a major research laboratory that led the way in helping to protect the state from these types of pests.

Back in 2011, Scott single-handedly killed a late effort to save FAMU’s John A. Mulrennan, Sr. Public Health Entomology Research and Education Center (PHEREC) in Panama City. The governor line item vetoed $500,000 that the Florida legislature approved to keep the lab open.

According to Mother Jones Magazine, “along with other budget cuts, the [FAMU mosquito lab’s] closure halved the number of Florida scientists working on mosquito control.”

Gallinippers grow to be about the length of quarter coins. That is about 20 times the size of most other mosquitos. Anthony Pelaez, director of education at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry, says that it “feels like you're being stabbed” when you’re bitten by one of these giant bugs.

Even though gallinippers can be repelled with insecticides containing DEET, their huge size gives them a greater ability to resist those common sprays.

The only somewhat good news is that gallinippers don’t typically carry mosquito-borne illnesses.

Make sure to thank the governor for being more concerned about cutting FAMU’s budget than helping Floridians fight huge, blood-sucking insects.

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