As a biology major and world traveler, bugs have been a constant, creepy and curious part of my life. Any person with a little common sense knows it is important to be aware of the various biting bugs and stinging insects a person may face. I had a serious bout with tick fever in college so biting bugs are a serious concern for me when I travel. Since my first trip to Belize in 2011 I have experienced, heard about and witnessed many different biting bugs as part of my ongoing research and reporting on my blog and website. Recently it was time to dig deep and do a diligent discovery of the biting bugs in Belize. People that travel to Belize will benefit from knowing the information provided in this blog post and sharing it with family and friends. After many weeks of personal experience and many days of research this summary offers a wealth of health education and information before you travel to Belize or any country for that matter. Be prepared to prevent bug bites or be prepared to suffer the painful and potentially problematic consequences after being bitten by bugs. Most people are aware an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Disease, infections and treatments after being bitten by bugs can be very expensive and traumatic.
Beware Belize Biting Bugs
It is better to let people know up front about any health, safety and environmental issues before traveling to Belize. Property owners, students, tourists and visitors should have keen awareness and interest in knowing more about the biting bugs in Belize. After fourteen trips to Belize there are a number of both happy and unhappy educational experiences and lessons learned for me to share. Like most countries in the world there are a wide variety of arthropods, bugs, insects and spiders in Belize. A little bit of knowledge and prior proper planning can help prevent the vast majority of painful and perplexing situations dealing with biting bugs. Just to be clear it is not just the biting bugs one must be concerned about but also the ones that sting. Many insects in Belize bite you in order to find a tasty tourist treat while other insects may simply sting you as a self defense mechanism.
Biting Bugs in Belize
In the previous post we shred a wide variety of biting bugs in Belize that can affect your health, safety and environmental enjoyment such as: Ants, Bed bugs, Bot Fly, Botlass fly, Centipedes, Doctor fly, Chiggers, Gnats, Horse fly, Kissing bug, Midget, Mosquitoes, Sand fly, Sand flea, Spiders and Ticks. Sand fly bites in Belize are one of the most annoying and common causes for people to itch and their skin to suffer. Biting Bugs in Belize are biting bandits out to steal some blood. Biting bugs can transmit Chikungunya virus, dengue fever, malaria, parasites, Zika virus and more so it is important to take proven precautions to prevent problems with bites and protect yourself. By the way, many people think the flood fly is a flying ant but it is actually a flying termite that can be quite annoying.
Stinging Insects in Belize
In the previous post we also shared a wide variety of stinging insects in Belize that can adversely affect your health, safety and environment enjoyment. To recap the most common stinging insects in Belize include: Ants, Asps, Bees, Scorpions and Wasps. The best way to protect yourself is to use common sense and to minimize their ability to come in contact with your skin. There are many varieties of ants in Belize and they are one of the most abundant insects so taking them seriously is definitely to your advantage. Army ants, black carpenter ants, fire ants, leaf cutter ants and marching ants are widely found in Belize and can deliver a painful bit or sting.
Best Policy is Prevention and Protection
Biting and stinging insects appear throughout the world. The best things you can do are to educate and prepare in advance. This will allow you to be prepared to prevent and protect your self against these annoying insects that can cause minor irritations or serious diseases and health hazards. After you learn you must take action to prevent the biting bugs and stinging bugs in Belize. This follow up blog post will give specific action plans to help prevent and protect you suffering from biting bugs and stinging bugs. Remember Prior Proper Planning & Protection Prevents Parasites, Pests and Potentially Painful Problems.
Our Seventh Generation Community Code of Conduct for guests and residents will not allow the spraying of fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides on our property. DEET is used in many chemical insect repellents and as an insecticide is harmful and toxic to humans. The long and short tern consequences are too risky to the animals, bees, birds, butterflies and beautiful people we want living in our Belize Eco Village to allow the use of DEET products. We will maintain very high standards for living in a chemical free environment to protect our clean air, food, furniture, house and water. Here are the natural things you can do that will will significantly prevent and protect you from biting bugs.
Belize Bugs Top Ten Tips
The best advice is be prepared. Since biting bugs and stinging insects can cause disease and infections we want to help you be prepared and prevent problems. By educating travelers and visitors with these Top Ten Tips we believe they will enjoy any adventure and travel even more.
Bug education and information is very important to maximize your pleasure and minimize your pain in Belize. For example you are most likely to come in contact with army ants, fire ants, leaf cutter ants and scorpions on the grass and ground. Chiggers and ticks are more likely to be in tall grass and weeds. Sand flies and sand fleas are more common on the beach, sandy and wet areas. Many places rake their beach sand early in the morning to kill the eggs. Bees and wasps are more common in attics, buildings, bushes, logs and trees. Black flies, Doctor flies, gnats, horse flies, midgets, mosquitoes and sand flies are typically flying around animals, bodies of water, communities, fruit trees, jungle, tropical vegetation and trees. Some bugs seem worse after rains that support breeding and during different seasons. Many have various times of the day or night they prefer to be more active. Always assume that some type of biting bug is seeking to bite you and start each day with an intention to be proactive to prevent their success scoring a blood meal. Start each day with an application of all natural bug repellent around your ankles, arms, hands, head, legs and neck. Reapply at lunch and dinner. Remember to link and think about the idea you are hungry and want to eat with the concept they are hungry and want to eat you as food.
Different bugs have different traits and tricks. Ants, chiggers and ticks can climb on board and hitch a ride. Ants can sting right away or later. Chiggers and ticks hold on to your skin to grab a meal. Flying bugs can land on any exposed skin and do their dirty work. Some can even numb you with a secretion that makes you more susceptible, unaware and vulnerable. Bed bugs bite mostly at night while you sleep. Vinegar can help kill and repel them if sprayed on the bed frame. Mosquitoes hone in based on our scent, smells and sweat. They all depend on access to skin to inflict an injury.
Fragrances from body care products like: after shave, conditioners, deodorants, lotions, perfumes, shampoos, soaps, and sunscreens can actually attract some biting bugs. They also contain harmful ingredients which is discussed in other posts. You can use various essential oils and natural fragrances to help repel bugs. Bugs seem to dislike citronella, geranium, lemon grass, neem, oregano, peppermint, tea tree and others. many natural repellents use a carrier oil base like coconut oil combined with these natural essential oils.
Bugs have different attractions to different people. Peoples reactions to bites vary far and wide. Locals may be running around with exposed arms and legs so that may make you think it is safe for you to do the same. Wrong! Many locals either eat foods that give a degree of protection or they are less prone to a severe reaction because the are de-sensitized. Never assume that if the Belizean locals are exposed and without protection you can do the same. The locals call you a “fresh feast” because when have all that skin exposed and unprotected you are inviting the biting bugs to have a meal at your expense. Ant the price you pay can be very high indeed. Some tourists have ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars in medical care and treatment after getting diseases or infections from bug bites.
Travelers behaviors and beliefs are the greatest contributor to biting bugs causing trouble. Many tourists feel Belize is too hot and humid to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts. Tourists prefer to dress in bathing suits, shorts and t shirts to be chic, comfortable and cool. While you are enjoying the beach, jungle, restaurant or village the bugs are enjoying you as a “fantastic feast of foreign flesh and fresh food”. BTW most insect repellents do not work that well to justify the potential harm they can create.
Preventing bug bites can be as simple as avoiding certain areas at certain times, screens on windows and using mosquito nets at night. Walking on groomed trails instead of in tall grass and watching where you stand or step can help prevent bug bites and insect stings. Watching where you put your hands and feet is another common sense key strategy. Covering up your delicate and delicious skin is the easy and effective way to stay safe from biting bugs and stinging insects. Spraying vinegar around your area has been found to help prevent some bugs from bothering you. There are also electronic devices that help repel bugs. Many people use bug zappers to help kill bugs at night but it is important to prevent geckos from being zapped. Bats and Geckos are great at consuming biting bugs so do not use any chemicals that are harmful or toxic which could harm them.
Preventing bug bites and insect stings is as simple as wearing the right protective clothing. Wearing your bathing suit under your long sleeve shirt and long pants is a good way to protect yourself when going to the bar, beach, jungle, trail, town or waterfalls. Shoes and socks instead of flip flops can protect your ankles and feet. You can tuck your pant legs into your boots, shoes or socks. Wearing lightweight gaiters or leggings offers added protection. Wearing a broad brimmed hat is also very helpful for keeping bugs and the intense sun off your head. Sometimes a bandana is a good addition to put over your neck and under your hat. Sometime gloves are also beneficial to protect your hands from bites and stings. Long pants are also beneficial because there are snakes in many areas of Belize and the extra layer of clothing can provide additional protection. Does Indiana Jones go into the jungle dressed in a bathing suit or shorts and a t-shirt? Of course not. Only uninformed tourists do that and end up paying a pretty painful price.
Repellents with synthetic compounds like DEET and other harmful and toxic ingredients can have a severe impact to our body, brain and nervous system. DEET is a powerful insecticide and too toxic to apply to your skin. Most repellents do not work as well as we are told. Any exposed area is still an easy meal. You are advised to wear them because this way they warned you about biting bugs and because someone makes big bucks selling you these terribly toxic timebombs. Besides being expensive they are harmful to you and the environment. They do not protect you from stinging insects at all so you are still vulnerable. There are many natural repellents available in Belize and various countries to provide significant protection to supplement your protective clothing. Sulfur powder helps. Many people have found that eating foods with B vitamins, garlic, sulfur and turmeric act as a natural repellent. Look for natural insect repellents made in Belize by: Barbara Mock at Sew Much Hemp in Hopkins. Belizean Breezes Soap Company and Body Belize insect repellent. Autan repellent is another one that has appeared on the market lately. There are many Maya Medicine remedies and repellents available in Belize.
Bug bite care and treatment after an encounter can determine the difference between minor annoyance and serious disease and infections. Immediately after noticing any bug bites be sure to bathe completely with a natural soap and water or take a swim in sea water. This can help rid any long term hitch hikers taking a ride for a long feast. Treating bug bites by soaking in a baking soda bath, calcium bentonite clay bath, epsom salt bath or soaking in salty Caribbean water helps. To prevent infections try topical treatments first: Alcohol (vodka), calcium bentonite, clay, calamine lotion, neem oil, Tea tree oil, Vinegar or Witch hazel. Then treat the affected areas with a combination of essential oil ( eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, lemon grass, lime, orange, oregano, peppermint or tea tree) combined with a healthy carrier oil base like coconut, cohune, hemp, olive oil or sesame oil. Aloe vera or cactus gel is also good for helping with itch relief. Using the inside of a banana peel is another local remedy that can help also. Avoid scratching as this can lead to infections and even scarring. “After-Bite”, Jungle Salve and The Hemp Oil – “Itch Away” topical ointment can help with healing and itch also. Calcium bentonite clay gel makes a natural band aid to protect the site while also reducing the itch. Some in Belize swear by Windex to prevent bug bites and relieve itching. This treatment caught my eye and may be just the treatment you need. Treating a bite from a horse fly: If you are bitten by a horsefly wash the area first and then cover the bitten area with your saliva. Saliva contains Histatin protein which has healing properties that restricts the negative effect of the bite. Quick action and herbal remedies may help prevent the need to seek medical treatments later. If bites and stings are not properly treated it can result in taking antibiotics, medical ointments and other treatments to deal with a more serious disease or infection.
Healthy Habitat & Habitats
Biting bugs and stinging insects can cause disease and infections which means you must do your part to be prepared and prevent problems. These Top Ten Tips we help you be prepared for a visit to Belize and our Belize Eco Village. In 2017 we will focus 50% on Healthy Habits and 50% on Healthy Habitats and Sustainability Strategies. My passion is to interview, research and visit amazing sustainable community projects to learn, mentor and role model them. Our vision is to attract a variety of eco-conscious, open minded and passion people to help design, build and live in our eco friendly, green, healthy and sustainable community. Imagine a peace of paradise where people will live, retire, visit and work while enjoying an even more happy, healthy and in harmony lifestyle. Our posts will focus on ideas, insights and inspiration that guide the project. We will provide progress pictures and vivid videos as we learn new life lessons and practices of progressive people in stewardship and sustainability. We will maintain maximum focus on developing the 149 acres of pristine Caribbean pine ridge and riparian forest into a Belize Eco Village master planned community. Posts will share sustainable solutions, strategies, suggestions and systems to consciously reduce our carbon and water footprint.
Where is your Gap?
What behaviors, beliefs and decisions about how and where you live are harming the health of people and the planet? What areas in your life are exposing you to excessive harm? What will it take for you to protect your family, self and the planet from damage, degradation and destruction? How can you stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution instead?
Mastery Action Plan (MAP)
It is well documented that many biting bugs and stinging insects can affect our body and brain. There is a wealth of wisdom on my blog and the internet regarding a wide variety of these health hazards. What are you willing to do differently to protect people and our planet to make better choices? Following a healthy habits code of conduct and mastery action plan will enhance our quality of life. Are you ready to do your part for rapid results? Find more information on Beware Belize Biting Bugs.
Call to Action
What comments, commitments or concerns come to mind regarding the many benefits of healthy habits and healthy habitats? Are you ready to learn more and join our terrific team?
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