How bad are mosquitoes, bugs and insects in Belize?
For travelers preoccupied with relaxing and having fun in Belize, the topic of mosquitoes, bugs and insects is not likely to be at the forefront of their brains. But these critters are a fact of life throughout the globe, especially nations located at or near the Equator.
But here’s a bit of trivia you can use next time the topic comes up: according to scientists, only Iceland has no mosquitoes because the nation’s freeze/thaw cycle doesn’t provide resources needed to reproduce. Joked one Icelander when asked about pests, “We do however have a severe case of the tourists.”
Kidding aside, Belize beaches, jungles and forests are home to all sorts of critters and the only ice frequent visitors find are cubes cooling tropical drinks prepared to order at resorts and bars throughout the nation.
This guide introduces you to the crawling, winged and undesirable species of creatures you will run into during your stay, and since you will be out and about checking out jungles, forests, beaches and other natural wonders, bringing along proper repellents plus soothing agents known to quell bites is the recipe you need to enjoy every moment of your stay in Belize. You probably won’t encounter all of these, but if you do, you’ll be prepared!
Mosquitoes and sand flies
If you choose to vacation in Belize during rainy season (June to November), you’ll find the environment is similar to cities like Miami, Houston and New Orleans where proximity to water, high temperatures and humidity attract both of these annoying creatures. If there’s standing water, count on attracting them.
Prone to buzzing around flatlands over hills and mountains where there are likely to be fewer encounters, just about anything can serve as a welcoming vessel for mosquitoes, including refuse dumped on roads and property that run the gamut from old cans and tires to bird baths.
Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are night owls while dengue fever carriers are out during the day, so protecting yourself 24/7 is essential. One of the best ways to ward off these pests is to expose as little skin as possible and for the skin you do expose while in Belize, a strong repellent is advised.
Additionally, mosquito coils are small, handy items and repel mosquitoes, but keep the smoke trail away from your face so you don’t breathe it in.
Fans are also recommended to blow airborne insects away as are screens and mosquito nets tucked into the mattress so bugs can’t sneak in from below the bed. Ask your resort host if mosquito nets are provided and if the answer is no, bring your own since these nets are so lightweight they add little to luggage weight.
Did we leave sand flies for last for a reason? Truth is, mosquitoes can do more harm to humans than these tiny bugs that also breed in wet, sandy areas, and if you scratch these you’ll be sorry. Irritate a bite and huge red bumps will pop up on the affected bite area that will keep you scratching for days. If you think you are going to encounter sand flies, a thick oil is all it takes to keep them at bay (baby oil is recommended). Rumor has it, lavender oil is especially effective.
Robots? Not exactly. These devils are 100-percent Mother Nature made and while they look exactly like common house flies, these are an exotic version of worm that seeks out mosquitoes so they can lay their eggs on them. Sound like an unwelcome attachment? It is, but mosquitoes are too busy worrying about new blood supplies from humans to pay attention to their free riders.
Once dropped on unsuspecting mosquitoes the eggs deposited burrow under skin and morph into maggots. These clever creatures need access to air, so they push a little tube through the skin of the human they have decided to cohabit with and that tube will stay in place until you take action by killing it. Skip and option and these creepy worms will leave eventually, but if you don’t want to have your Belize vacation ruined, kill the invader.
Often confused with mosquito bites, botfly bites can manifest as nasty, tender bumps that can keep you awake at night and make you miserable, but at least they don’t carry infections. On the other hand, scratch and you could infect the spot, so be proactive. A dab of Vaseline on the spot where the tube erupted cuts off the air supply, at which point, squeeze the area thoroughly to get the creature out and add a topical disinfectant.
Scorpions, spiders, and snakes
Given the fact that a lot of Belize topography is composed of jungle and forest, it shouldn’t surprise you that hiking boots are recommend when you go trekking during your holiday to avoid getting up close and personal with creatures that slither, fly and creep. Though they look pretty creepy, scorpions look menacing but they’re not as lethal as scorpion species found elsewhere on the planet.
If you’re bitten by a scorpion, your tongue and lips may feel somewhat numb but you may not have any other symptoms as the venom leaves your body. That stated, these big, black creepy-crawlers can be highly dangerous for folks with asthma and allergies and could trigger anaphylactic shock among other serious reactions. Stay away from wood piles where scorpions love to hang out.
Scared of spiders? You’ll be happy to read that Belize spiders are scared of humans and they have no desire to bite them. That said, they do like to crawl into dark places like linens, clothes and other easy-to-crawl into items so getting into the habit of shaking everything out before you put it on can help you avoid surprises. That goes for inspecting your shoes, too.
So, saving the best for last, you should know that around 59 types of snakes call Belize home and they run the gamut from innocuous to deadly. Of the nine worst species, the fer-de-lance is considered the grandfather of deadly snakes but these creatures tend to avoid humans, so you would have to go out of your way to provoke one to put yourself at risk.
Bringing an antihistamine and epinephrine pen is always a good idea if you have sensitivities to a variety of toxins. And if you are bitten, stop, don’t run or the venom will travel through your system at the speed of a rocket.
Step into the Caribbean Sea gingerly because you could step on anemones and sea urchins that can not only deliver pain but inject a toxin into your system that is poisonous and likely to cause an infection if not treated immediately.
Both of these critters are capable of penetrating rubber wet suits, so just because you’re wearing one, that doesn’t mean you’re not a risk. It may sound gross but if you don’t have an antibiotic cream, urinating on the spot from which the spine is removed can help disinfect the area.
If you’re hanging around coral patches, you could run into man-of-war and jellyfish-like, transparent bubbles of menacing life that should be avoided at all cost so you don’t get a rash. As if these giant blobs weren’t bad enough, add sea wasps to your list of creatures to avoid. Like mosquitoes, they would like nothing more than to sting you.
Finally, coral cuts are common when folks visiting reefs get so carried away by the beauty and wonder that they don’t watch what they’re touching or where they’re going. If you suffer a coral cut, see a doctor to make sure it’s all been removed so you don’t get an infection.