With all of its glitz and glamor, traveling to a destination like Cancun or other Mexican resort destinations shouldn’t include worrying about bugs that might spoil your holiday. However expecting no bugs is a mistake, and you’ll definitely need insect repellent here.
Unfortunately, Cancun, Cabo, and Mexico as a whole has its fair share of bugs and insects, much like most places on the globe. There are a variety of insects that are drawn to the area because of the warm climate. Most of these insects aren’t dangerous, but they may still cause pain with their bites and stings.
Continue reading to prepare for the flying creatures, an potentially dangerous bugs, that you could come across while in Mexico. Here, we’ll go through some of the most common insects in Mexico, what circumstances can encourage their presence, and what you should do if you are stung or bitten. It’s all information that can help as you plan your dream Mexico vacation.
What Kinds of Insects and Bugs Can You Expect to Find in Cancun and other Mexican Resort Areas?
Traveling to Mexico, you may be able to forget about everything else in life apart from these insects, unfortunately.
These pesky bugs are one of the most common insects in Mexico, and may leave you with a rash of itchy, red bites.
The Bite of a Mosquito:
A mosquito bite appears as a red, swollen lump on the skin. To relieve the itchiness you can take a spoon, heat it up, and then lay it over the bite for a few seconds or longer. You can also make a baking soda paste, then apply it directly on the bite.
Swelling may be reduced with antihistamines, ice, or a cold compress too. Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream might also help with itching.
A Tabano is a horsefly from the family Tabanidae that goes by the name of Tabano. Despite their enormous size, these giant flies have excellent flight abilities.
Horseflies, like mosquitoes, are blood-suckers and will feed off either humans or animals. The bite can be quite painful, itchy, and swell a lot.
Bites From Horseflies:
If you’ve been bitten by a tabano, it’s critical that you don’t scratch or itch. Scratching might lead to an infection and make it worse. Instead, use an ice pack or cold compress on the area where the bite occurred. If the bite is itchy, you can wash it with warm water and soap.
One of the most common bugs in Mexico are the native gnats which are referred to as chakistes. It’s possible to find far more aggressive chakistes in certain places in Mexico, where they bite and attack as much as mosquitoes do. They exist in Cancun and other resort areas, but tend not to be a big problem.
However unfortunately, mosquito nets and screens are not effective when it comes to these insects as they can fly right through them due to their tiny size.
Within the city limits of Cancun, a chakiste or gnat bite should have no effect on your vacation plans at all. You may have some itchiness at first, but this will subside quickly. A cold compress or water and soap will help relieve the itching. If you raise the bitten limb, you may see that symptoms lessen.
4. Agua Mala
The Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish, known as agua mala in Mexico, are found in the coastal waters around Mexico, including in places like Cancun, Cabo, and others.
This animal is almost transparent but has venom that’s about 70% as potent as a cobra’s, and it’s sting can cause hours of burning pain. If you see one in the water, you should try and stay far away! Their tentacles can be several feet long, so if you can see one of these jellyfish nearby you may still be close to its tentacles. The tentacles have special cells called nematocysts that are full of venom.
The Sting of Agua Mala:
If you were stung by an agua mala, get out of the water right away. The pain can be excruciating, and it’s best to go to a hospital. In severe cases the sting of a Portuguese man o’ war can be life threatening.
5. Africanized Bee
There isn’t much of a visible distinction between an Africanized Bee and the ones you’re used to seeing in the United States, but they are more aggressive in their attempts to reach you.
Africanized Bees, for example, have been known to follow a single individual for up to 400 meters and across the globe have killed around 1,000 people.
For this reason, if you meet an Africanized Bee in the Yucatan Peninsula (where Cancun is situated), you should leave the area immediately. This is definitely one of the bugs in Mexico you want to avoid!
Stings From Africanized Bees:
When the Africanized Bee stings you, sometimes they leave their stinger in your skin. If at all possible, have someone remove this for you, or if no-one is around do this yourself. After that, wash the affected place with warm water and soap to remove the venom.
The majority of your discomfort and itching can probably be relieved with the use of anti-itch medicines and cold packs.
Because African bees may sting hundreds of times at once, you should seek medical attention if you get stung more than once.
As we’ve written about before in a piece about spiders in Mexico, this country is home to roughly 2000 species of spiders! We’re afraid to say that tarantulas are the most common type of spider you will find in Mexico, with at least 66 different species.
Four spiders in Mexico are venomous enough to cause concern to humans: Black Widow, Brown Widow, Brown Recluse, and the Hobo Spider. Other notable spiders are the Mexican Wandering Spider, which has a body the size of a baseball!
Luckily though, hotels and resorts are very good at keeping spiders away so you’ve very unlikely to interact with any spiders on your trip. Except possibly the common house spider, or tiny jumping spiders.
What You Should do if You’re Bitten by a Spider?
No matter what spider you think you’ve been bitten by, you should consider seeking medical treatment to ensure you are safe. That’s because Mexico has a few spiders that can cause serious health issues.
At Home Treatment for a Spider Bite
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment, such as polysporin.
- Apply a cold compress to the affected area.
- Elevate the area if possible.
- Take OTC pain medication such as Advil if you have pain.
- Take OTC antihistamine if you have itching or swelling in the area.
- Immediately see a doctor if the bite starts to worsen or even turn into an open sore.
One group of bugs in Mexico that you could meet anywhere in the country are scorpions.
We’ve got good news and bad news for those who aren’t the biggest fans of these bugs. The bad news is that there are 281 species of scorpions in Mexico. The good news is that only eight of those species deliver deadly stings. (Recommended: Scorpions in Mexico).
The light-yellow scorpions are the scorpions in Mexico that you need to be careful of as they are highly venomous. So if you see a light yellow scorpion, it could deliver a potentially dangerous sting.
You can find scorpions throughout most of Mexico, including in resort areas like Cancun and Cabo, however, there are some areas with higher risk than others. Certainly outside the resort areas of Cancun, Cabo, Tulum and others, you can find many scorpions.
The areas with the highest risk are the central and northern states along the Pacific Coast. States like Jalisco, Michoacan, Guerrero, Colima, and Nayarit are more likely to be home to the dangerous varieties of scorpions in Mexico.
Incidences of scorpion stings are more frequent during the hotter months, between April and June. This is when they are reproducing and more likely to be outside of their burrows.
What to Do If You Get Stung by a Scorpion
The first thing you should do is receive medical attention. This is especially important for children, elders, and highly allergic people or anyone who has been stung by a yellow scorpion.
Keep track of your symptoms so you can share this information with your doctor. Most people will experience mild symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbing, tingling, or burning. It’s possible to develop more serious symptoms ranging from muscle twitching to seizures to an irregular heartbeat. Severe symptoms are not very likely, however, if you notice them, make sure you’re seeking medical attention as quickly as possible.
If you make the decision to treat your scorpion sting at home, wash the area with soap and water and remove any jewelry nearby in case of swelling. You can apply a cold rag to the area to help with the sting. Take a pain reliever or antihistamine to help with the symptoms after consulting with your doctor. If symptoms begin to worsen, head to the hospital immediately.
While snakes don’t really come under the bugs in Mexico tag, they are worth quickly mentioning. There are 381 different species of snakes in Mexico, and although the vast majority are harmless, a few are poisonous to humans.
Most of the deadly and venomous snakes in Mexico are pit vipers. The Fer-de-Lance is the most dangerous and typically this snake will inject 105 mg of venom in one bite, but 50 mg is enough to kill an average human!
Snakes tend to be found in rainforests and very rural areas so the chances of coming across one on holiday is very slim. However Mexico does get Yellow-Bellied Sea Snakes on it’s Pacific Coast, which sometimes – albeit rarely – come close to land. These snakes are venomous so keep a close eye out if staying in a resort on Mexico’s Pacific side. (Recommended: Snakes in Mexico).
What Environmental Factors Influence the Activity of These Insects?
So now you know what kind of Mexico bugs and insects to expect on your Cancun vacation!
While you may not meet many bugs on your vacation, you can start taking safeguards by being aware of the situations that may cause more insects and creatures to emerge. The following information could therefore be useful.
Mosquitoes thrive in the surrounding forests which encircle Cancun. These blood-sucking insects can thrive in a wide range of habitats, but prefer moist areas such as wetlands and woodlands.
However, mosquitoes have a hard time surviving at really low temperatures. Cancun’s Caribbean coast seldom gets colder than 49 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore mosquitoes aren’t likely to die from the cold there. As a result, they’ll be around throughout the duration of the year.
An increased chance of interaction with a tabano may be found in areas that get a lot of sun, such as the beach.
As previously said, chakistes aren’t a big problem in Cancun. Some temperatures and seasons are better for them than others, but they dislike sun and wind movements.
You won’t find many African Bees in Quintana Roo (the state where Cancun is located) since they aren’t found here. But if you leave Cancun and go to other regions of the Yucatan Peninsula, you may come across an African bee. (Recommended: The Common, Rare & Dangerous Animals in Cancun You Might Meet!).
How to Avoid Insects & Bugs in Cancun
If you want as bug-free a vacation in Cancun as possible, you can do a few things such as dress differently and perform different activities.
Here are a few recommendations to keep in mind.
1. Limit Your Travel to Urban Areas Only
When you go far from populated regions, your chance of getting bitten by mosquitoes and tabanos increases.
If you’re planning a trip to Cancun and want to see Koba or the Ruinas del Rey, keep in mind that they’re surrounded by rainforest. Yes, these ruins are located in clearings, but getting there involves navigating through a lot of undergrowth. Just ensure you keep yourself and others around you safe.
2. Insect Repellents
Insect repellant is always your best choice for warding off mosquitoes, biting insects, and other bothersome creatures who want nothing more than to spoil your vacation. Use an insect repellent on your skin, whether it’s sprayed on or applied in another way, and that should keep bugs in Mexico away.
Reapply your insect repellent according to the label’s instructions as often as required, such as every two hours.
3. Don’t Expose Too Much of Your Skin
The more exposed skin you have, the more potential food bugs in Mexico will have to feed on! If you’re going on a hike or exploring the jungle, make sure you have long sleeves, trousers, and socks if you want to avoid being bitten.
Our Final Thoughts
When it comes to insects and bugs, Cancun is no stranger to them. Mexico, and Cancun, is home to several, including the mosquito, horsefly, chakist, scorpions, many spiders and the Africanized bee. Even if you don’t encounter any of these pests, it’s still a good idea to pack insect repellent, long pants, and a cool head in case you do. Have fun!