Mosquitoes Plague Carolinas in Midst of Hurricane Aftermath

Source: Laura Sikes

By Nash Eppard

If you were to survey any group of people to find out the most annoying insect to deal with, the mosquito would absolutely be on the top on that list. Female mosquitoes need blood to develop and lay their eggs. Not only do they leave painful and itchy spots after they bite, but they are known to carry deadly diseases. The reproduction rate and large numbers of Mosquitos result in them being very difficult to avoid. Normally, most Americans escape the pestering attacks of mosquitoes by staying indoors. However, avoiding these pests becomes increasingly challenging when natural disasters such as hurricanes strike. Recently, the east coast of the United States was struck by Hurricane Florence. Hurricane Florence was a category 2 hurricane, with 105 mph winds, that hit the hardest in the Carolinas.

The hurricane displaced nearly 2000 people who were forced to live in Red Cross shelters across North and South Carolina. Most of the displacement was caused by the heavy winds and rainfall these areas saw in a short amount of time. Multiple cities in the Carolinas saw over two feet of rainfall during the storm’s duration. When the residents believed the worst of the storm was over, they were struck by a more pestering issue; Mosquitos. After the storm subsided, an outbreak of enlarged mosquitos called gall nippers stretched across most of the Carolinas. This breed of mosquitos easily grows to three times the normal size and are relentless pests. The severe flooding caused by Florence caused dormant gall nipper eggs to hatch, resulting in billions of parasites tormenting the Carolinas.

The still pools of rainwater across the states are allowing these mosquitoes to easily breed and reproduce, thus contributing to the issue. These enlarged mosquitoes are quite aggressive and can easily bite through one or two layers of cotton. While most people can barely feel when a normal mosquito bites them, Tom Torture and environmental health program specialist says a bite from a gall nipper is “like somebody shoving a hot poker in your arm and burns like hell.” This species is also extremely aggressive and will mob any mammal they can find throughout the day and night. A popular video of a woman and her daughter getting swarmed by these super-sized mosquitoes has been sent around on Facebook recently. In the video, you can hear the young daughter asking her mother why she was “taking pictures of the wasps.” The fact that these blood-sucking insects can be mistaken for wasps shows the extreme size of this breed of mosquitos.

The woman who took the video said that the number of the enlarged mosquitoes gradually increased three to four days after the storm had passed. Just when residents thought that their struggles with mother nature were over, she threw a curveball in the shape of a six-legged bloodsucker. This has become a big enough concern that the state of North Carolina has felt the need to step in. They have ordered 4 million dollars towards mosquito eradication. Most of this money will be directed towards the counties that have suffered the most flooding. The counties are using this money for pesticide spraying trucks and are doing research to combat these pests. Governing officials are worried that dealing with the gall nippers will slow down cleanup efforts which are why combating the insects is very high on their priority list.