Last updated on February 6, 2023 by Wandering our World
Beyond its glorious temples and pristine oceans, Bali brims with stunning scenery, jungles, and rich culture. You are guaranteed to have a fantastic vacation in the ‘land of the Gods’, soaking in the splendid lush greenery, glorious temples, and gorgeous waterfalls.
Bali can be a paradise for all ages, with plenty of things to do and never-ending sites to visit. However along with the tropical landscape comes some nasty Bali bugs and other animals that could ruin your vacation.
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There is no need for you to fret over these little creatures though. We have created this helpful article to show you the bugs in Bali you need to avoid, and explain where they can be usually found.
Watch out for these Bali bugs, and you’ll have a terror-free fun-filled vacation on this beautiful island.
20 Bali Insects & Bugs That Sting And Bite
1. Paper Wasp
Paper wasps, also known as umbrella wasps, have slender bodies, yellow markings, and black wings.
Their stings are notoriously painful. But luckily they tend to avoid human contact unless they feel threatened or provoked.
These wasps can sting repeatedly, and subsequently they can inflict some severe damage. The sting can be quite painful, and may be followed by redness, swelling, and a whole body muscle ache if an allergy is triggered.
Seek immediate medical help if you experience nausea, dizziness, and heavy sweating.
Avoid them by keeping your distance from their nests.
2. Stinging Tomcat
The ‘Stinging Tomcat’ is a species of Rove beetle, which is a little ant-sized creature that has become a terror for visiting Bali tourists.
These little insects in Bali are black and brown in color, and have a pointy bum. No, they don’t sting you with those pointy bums, in fact they can do much worse damage.
These beetles contain a body fluid called pederin, a toxic liquid that is more poisonous than the venom of a cobra! Even an accidental brushing against or contact with this beetle can cause skin irritation and blisters. Painful pus-filled blisters will pop up within 12 to 36 hours after contact and can take weeks or even months to disappear.
Resist the temptation to swat, squash, or brush away this creepy crawly insect, as that can leave the poisonous goo on your skin.
Immediately wash your hands thoroughly with soap if you get one on your skin. But do your best to not let these insects come in contact with your skin at all costs.
The stinging tomcat becomes more active after heavy rains and floods. So keep an eye out for these Bali bugs if you are visiting during the rainy season.
Did you know that mosquito-borne diseases are the cause of more than 725,000 deaths across the globe?
That makes these buzzing annoyances the most dangerous insects in the world, and you will find them in abundance here in Bali. These blood-sucking little vampires’ bites can not only cause itching but are also the carriers of dangerous diseases.
So if you are going on a hike to Bali’s volcanoes, jungles or visiting the rural areas of Ubud, make sure to cover your arms and legs with an anti-mozzie spray. Do not let these little Bali bugs ruin your holiday, especially at dawn and dusk which is when they’re most active.
4. Tokay Gecko
These colorful geckos are quite a familiar sight in Bali, and according to Balinese custom they are believed to bring good luck to any home they reside in. The chances are you will probably see them in your hotel room on the first day you arrive.
Geckos are generally shy and peaceful creatures. They spend most of their day sleeping and then hunting insects at night.
However when they feel threatened, they bite and it can hurt a lot. Geckos actually have quite powerful jaws that can latch on to your skin and won’t let go.
If you’re bitten do not try to loosen the jaw grip by grabbing them. This will only force them to tighten their bite on you. If a gecko bites you, just relax and loosen your grip. They will let go eventually.
The bites are not poisonous but they can hurt. If you see them in your room, leave them alone, and you won’t have a problem with them.
You can even make them your vacation pet!
5. Black Widow Spider
These notorious spiders are identified by their hourglass-shaped marks on their abdomens. A black widow spider bite is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake. Imagine that!
Another interesting fact is that only female black widow spiders bite. The bites of these spiders contain a neurotoxin called latrotoxin which can cause muscle aches, nausea, extreme pain, and breathing difficulty. The bite is so toxic it can be lethal, and elderly and small children are especially at risk if bitten.
Black widow spiders are usually found on the ground and in dark corners. Watch out for these ‘bandits who bite’ while exploring the beautiful landscapes of Bali, as they truly are one of the most dangerous creatures you can come across on your travels.
6. Velvet Ant
Velvet ants are actually female wingless wasps that are covered in thick velvety hair. There are over 3000 species in the family of velvet ants and most of them are brightly colored to alert other animals to their presence.
Velvet ants are actually nicknamed ‘cow killers’, but their stings should only be fatal for small animals. However those stings are still excruciatingly painful for humans and could cause redness and swelling in the bitten area. Or even worse if you’re allergic – so always seek out medical attention if stung.
These wasps are typically non-aggressive though, and emit an audible squeak to warn predators away.
7. Huntsman Spider
Consider yourself lucky if you see this spider, as it’s the largest spider in the world. But you will definitely be intimidated by them as these spiders are gigantic and can grow up to 30 cm!
Huntsman spiders are generally harmless. In fact, they tend to flee quickly from any threat, including when they see a person. On top of that, most of the time they are afraid to bite.
The huntsman spider will only bite if they feel threatened, but the bite will likely be nasty. You will experience swelling and redness in the area, which usually subsides after a week.
You can find them in forested areas as they are fond of wood, which has actually earned them the nickname ‘wood spider’.
The wildlife of Bali is really fascinating. And on the island you will find many varieties of centipedes, Scolopendra subspinipes being one of the most common species.
This slow-moving predator can grow up to 20 cm long. They are locally known as kaki seribu or more often Lipan, or kelabang in Bali.
The venom of these centipedes contains toxin that can cause redness, swelling, and nausea in humans. The bite from these Bali bugs is also very painful. You don’t want to cross paths with these spooky creatures!
Did you know that scorpions cause over 3000 deaths every year?
That’s because scorpions are one of the most venomous animals in the world, and their stings can be intensely painful. They use a stinger on their tail to sting and incapacitate their prey. These stings are highly venomous in some species of scorpions. But most of them use their stingers only as a defensive mechanism.
However don’t worry. Bali has three species of common scorpion, none of which are deadly to humans unless you’re allergic.
Among those, the wood scorpion is the most common. They have a terrifying look, and their sting can cause inflammation and extreme pain for several hours. They are usually found under leaf litter and on the bark of trees.
Ticks are blood-sucking little critters whose size ranges from a pin’s head to as large as an eraser. A tick bite causes irritation but the main issue is they can infect humans with bacteria, viruses, and protozoans that can cause diseases.
Often the bite itself is harmless and won’t produce any symptoms except itching. But for some people, a tick bite can cause allergic reactions like pain and swelling, blisters, and shortness of breath in severe allergic reactions.
If you have been bitten by a tick ensure that you remove it from your body. Also, apply an anti-bacterial cleanser or ointment to the bitten area.
If you are planning to spend your vacation outdoors in Bali, make sure your arms and legs are covered up when hiking as ticks tend to cling to foliage. Spraying your shoes and clothes with insect repellent is also an excellent idea to avoid nasty tick bites.
If you are an avid traveler, you may have encountered these bugs on your numerous trips. Sandflies are pesky little flies that are 1/8 of an inch long with hairy, brownish gray wings.
They are blood-sucking creatures whose bite can be painful. You might also develop red bumps or blisters in the bite area, and those can then become infected and cause inflammation or dermatitis. Avoid scratching the bitten area to reduce the chance of getting an infection.
These Bali bugs become most active at dusk and dawn, so be especially wary of them during these times.
12. Bed Bugs
Nothing is more irritating than being awakened at night after a day of exploring due to the bite from nasty bed bugs. These vicious little bugs are a nuisance and frustrating to handle. Humans are warm blood meals to them, and their incessant bites are enough to keep you awake all night.
Bed bugs could be hiding anywhere in yourr room as they are tiny and are also great hitchhikers. You may even accidentally pack them in your suitcase and take them home!
A bed bug bite is usually harmless except for the fact it can lead to redness, swelling, and itching. Checking your hotel room thoroughly before staying can help you avoid the problem of bed bugs.
Mites are related to ticks, and they resemble tiny insects but lack wings and eyes. They can adapt to any environment and can be found on both land and water.
Being so small in size, you will usually only realize you have been bitten by mites when you notice small reddish spots on your skin. These bites are typically harmless but can sometimes cause swelling, pain, and itching.
These little critters can be frustrating, so make sure you opt to stay in clean hotel rooms while vacationing in Bali.
14. Fire Ants
As the name implies, the sting of a fire ant feels like fire. These Bali bugs are found abundantly in the Ubud area, so keep your eye out for them if staying in this region. These ants are about ¼ inch long and range from reddish brown to black in color.
Fire ants become very aggressive when their mounds are disturbed. When they sense an intruder, they swarm, anchor themselves on the skin, and start stinging repeatedly. The sting of fire ants contains an alkaloid toxin called solenopsin.
You will know when fire ants bite you as the sting is painful and sometimes itchy. The bite might become swollen, and a blister may form that can last up to a week. When you hike around Bali, avoid any dirt mounds you see.
15. Sea Urchins
Apart from insects and bugs, there are other dangerous animals in Bali.
Sea urchins are one creature that can cause immense harm to humans. They are unique animals with many bright colors and are a thing of beauty to be marveled at. Just make sure you look at their beauty from afar as they have long venomous spikes all over their body that can be very painful when stepped on!
Those long pointy spines can easily cut through human skin causing severe pain. Sometimes these spikes snap off and get embedded in the skin, which makes them very difficult to extract.
Sea urchins are usually found in rocky shallow waters. Be careful not to step on them while walking along the beaches of Bali.
16. Sea Snake
Beware of sea snakes in Bali while walking along the beach or when taking a dip in the ocean. There are plenty of sea snakes in Bali, including venomous ones.
The banded sea krait is a common visitor along Bali’s coastal shores. They have black stripes along the lengths of their body, making them easy to spot.
The locals of Bali believe them to be holy and leave them alone, which is a wise thing to do! They are actually highly venomous and have enough venom to kill ten human adults.
Don’t worry though, as they only attack when they feel threatened.
Do not take them lightly though. If you see one while snorkeling or taking a walk down the beach, make sure you move away calmly but quickly. (Recommended: Snakes In Bali To Watch Out For).
17. Blue-Ringed Octopus
Bali is home to this small, beautiful, but downright scary creature. This brownish-yellow blob is covered in rings of turquoise blue, earning them the name blue-ringed octopus. They are tiny octopuses that rarely exceed 12 cm in length.
But these beautiful creatures carry venom that is 1000 times more potent than cyanide. Their attacks are mostly fatal, and there is no antidote.
But don’t let that deter you from enjoying a holiday in the scenic beauty of Bali. These octopuses rarely attack humans. There have been only three known deaths caused by these octopuses to date. They mostly live around coral reefs and hide among the cracks in order to avoid predators.
The Isle of Gods has rich deep blue waters that are home to many different types of beautiful jellyfish The purple jellyfish is one of the most commonly encountered species in Bali.
Along with a translucent body and long tentacles, they have a powerful sting too.
Jellyfish often can’t be spotted easily as they are small and blend into the waves, but you will know once you’ve been stung.
The discomfort usually passes within minutes though, unless you have an allergic reaction to the sting. If that’s the case seek immediate medical attention.
19. Blister Beetles
Blister beetles are from a family of toxic insects and are common around the world – Bali being no exception. These beetles are small insects that measure up to an inch long and have bright yellow or orange colors.
Blister beetles don’t have stingers, nor strong jaws to bite. Instead when threatened, these insects emit a toxic colorless, odorless chemical substance called Cantharidin which comes out of their leg joints. This substance can cause blisters when it comes in contact with skin – hence the name.
When the toxic substance comes in contact with skin, it can induce significant pain, redness, and irritation. A pus-filled welt or blisters may form, which should go away after one week. Make sure to wash the bitten area with soap to avoid infection.
These beetles are not aggressive towards humans, so just leave them alone and they should do the same to you.
20. Fire Coral
If you are in Bali you don’t want to miss out on the wonderful opportunity to dive and snorkel in the deep waters where you can marvel at the diverse and enchanting beauty of the marine life there. You might see brightly colored coral reefs while diving too.
Of course you should never touch coral when in the ocean, but another reason to leave marine life alone is the presence of fire coral.
Don’t be misled by the name fire coral though. Although it looks like coral, these are actually hydrozoa that are more closely related to anemones and jellyfish. But touch them and you will feel the burn! Touching a fire coral can cause a burning sensation, itching, and swelling. Nausea, muscle spasms, and abdominal pain can occur if there is an allergic reaction.
Divers are at risk of accidentally touching them and getting stung. So beware of fire coral while snorkeling and diving in the beautiful Indonesian waters.