How often have you swatted away a mosquito without giving it a second thought? More times than you can count, probably. That's because those pesky insects are commonly viewed as nothing more than a nuisance.
But did you know that mosquitoes come in different sizes? Not only that, but three species of this insect are much bigger than average. Get ready to learn about the Asian tiger mosquito, the Gallinipper mosquito and the elephant mosquito.
Asian Tiger Mosquito
The Asian tiger mosquito has a captivatingly beautiful black body with white stripes throughout, which is how it got its "tiger" designation. These insects can grow anywhere between 0.89 and 0.39 inches in length, and if one were to land on you, you may not even think that it's a mosquito. But it certainly is, and because these mosquitoes have been hitching rides in shipments from countries like China to the U.S. since the mid-1980s, the odds of spotting one are increasingly more likely, especially if you reside in the southeastern and central parts of the country.
California has periodically had to eradicate this invasive species whenever it pops up. So, as attractive as it is, this mosquito is best avoided because it aggressively feeds on humans, domesticated pets, birds and wild animals. They are carriers of serious diseases such as encephalitis, heartworm, Zika and yellow fever.
The Gallinipper mosquito is considered to be the second largest mosquito in the world. It can grow in size between one-half inch to one inch in length. They have black/brown bodies with shaggy scales and distinctive white markings on parts of their body.
If you happen to encounter one, and get bit, you can breathe a sigh of relief because they are not known disease carriers. However, that bit will be extra painful, and they can easily pierce through clothing. Luckily, this species is rarer than other species. Their habitat spans the eastern/central part of the U.S. and northern Mexico.
The biggest mosquito of them all is scientifically known as Toxorhynchites but is commonly called the Australian elephant mosquito since it mostly resides in that country.
It makes sense that the largest mosquito would be from Australia, a country known for its unique insects, birds and wildlife. So, how big is it?
Adult elephant mosquitoes can grow up to 1.3 inches in length. In case you're imagining swarms of huge mosquitoes chasing after people all day and night, being bit and drained by this species is unlikely. It doesn't feed on human blood. They prefer feeding on nectar from flowers, and the larvae of other mosquitoes, including tiger mosquito larvae. Because of this, they pose little threat to humans. However, studies are ongoing on their usefulness as a partner in eradicating mosquitoes that threaten human health.
One of the main issues that make using them in large-scale eco-friendly eradication projects is that they do not produce eggs in large numbers. This means that they are fewer in number than mosquitoes whose eggs they love to eat.
Perhaps, one day scientists will find a way to maximize their mosquito eradication potential.
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