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"A bad science fiction movie": Large, aggressive mosquitoes swarm N.C. city after Florence

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- A North Carolina city dealing with fallout from Hurricane Florence has been swarmed by aggressive mosquitoes nearly three times larger than regular mosquitoes. One resident, Robert Phillips, describes their rise as "a bad science fiction movie."

North Carolina State University entomology professor Michael Reiskind told The Fayetteville Observer that Florence's floodwater has caused eggs for mosquito species such as the Psorophora ciliata to hatch. These mosquitoes, often called "gallinippers," are known for their painful bite and often lay eggs in low-lying damp areas.

The eggs lie dormant in dry weather and hatch as adults following heavy rains. Reiskind said the state has 61 mosquito species, and "when the flood comes, we get many, many billions of them."

He said a silver lining is the mosquitoes aren't transmitting many diseases.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has ordered $4 million to fund mosquito control efforts in 27 counties that are under a major disaster declaration, his office said Wednesday in a news release.

"Increased mosquito populations often follow a hurricane or any weather event that results in large-scale flooding," the release said. 'While most mosquitoes that emerge after flooding do not transmit human disease, they still pose a public health problem by discouraging people from going outside and hindering recovery efforts." 

The funding will allow efforts to start as early as Thursday.

North Carolina has still been facing other after-effects of the powerful storm, which made landfall in the state nearly two weeks ago. Residents have been dealing with fallen trees, floodwaters and debris, and the recovery process is just beginning

The state on Tuesday reported another death caused by Florence and its remnants. Across multiple states, at least 47 deaths have been attributed to the storm.

When it comes to costs, Florence's rain, wind and flooding in the state already are nearly three times more costly than Hurricane Matthew's total devastation two years ago. The state Agriculture Department said Wednesday that crop and livestock losses were estimated at over $1.1 billion in North Carolina. The department said the total from Matthew was $400 million.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has said he expected losses to be great because harvests were under way or just getting started.