reflections on bugs and other Roatan pests
Roatan Travel Blog› entry 7 of 7 › view all entries
Life in the tropics. Sometimes it seems that there is a constant battle against nature penetrating into our home. In Roatan, we have a zillion types of bugs. The sandflies, or no-see-ums, that Roatan is known for is just one small part of the insect realm that thrives here. Of course, there are the blood-sucking mosquitoes. Then we have ants. Ants, in every size and variety. We have the very miniscule ants that sometimes appear around water and juice droplets, as if out of thin air, and then slightly larger, still very tiny, sugar ants, that manage to find their way into anything sweet unless it’s been very well sealed, and even things that aren’t that sweet, like tortillas. Then we have, a fraction of a size larger, the wee-wees, which wreck havoc in the garden, and bite with the strength of something 10x their size, leaving you with very itchy feet. We have leaf-cutter ants, marching along with each one toting his piece of leaf, fire ants (very aptly named!), marching ants, which travel through in swarms so thick that my friend has seen lizards hi-tailing it out of there, as well as the cleaning ants, which infiltrate your whole house and apparently clean it for any dead bugs etc (they don’t do toilet bowls, unfortunately). This last variety you apparently are just supposed to leave to let them do their thing, and then they disappear. Very nice in theory, but try getting ready for bed with a wall covered in ants next to you, and not whip out the Raid- sorry, but I just can’t do it! Then there are the slow-flying beetles, that crash into everything, as well as the occasional monster-size rhinosauros beetle. And lets not forget the cockroaches, those disgusting bugs that are not confined to dirty places only, but instead seem to thrive anywhere warm: sometimes almost 3 inches long! Termites, small winged insects that I can’t identify, caterpillars that every once in awhile seem to almost rain down from the trees, there are so many. And lets not overlook the spiders. Small ones, big ones, fat and skinny. Even the occasional tarantula out in the yard.
While the insects and spiders are aplenty, they’re not the only creature wanted to find their way in. Lizards are on every wall, always finding some way to come inside despite the screens and walls. I don’t mind lizards, and love to see them pounce on an unsuspecting insect. I do, however, have a very strong aversion to the mice and rats that have tried to set up residence. There’s nothing safe on a kitchen shelf- sugar and flour always need to go into plastic containers. A few rounds of poison gets rid of those unwelcome guests, but it’s only a matter of time before more come to call. Chewed holes in my nice new screens- I can’t stand those disgusting things!
And lets not forget the bats. There’s a family of them that have set up residence under the back eaves. Now that we’ve put on a back porch, they’ve found another spot for the daytime, but for some reason keep returning during the night. Leaving their gross bat droppings on the porch. Garlic is said to be the fix for this problem, but these ones seem determined to stay.
All of these critters are of the utmost fascination for my two little boys, but I can’t say I’m of the same mind. I have gotten a bit braver in motherhood, and I’ve trapped a few cockroaches, beetles, and lizards for them in their bug box, but I can’t say I enjoy having all these little housemates around. But there’s something to be said for the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the gentle sway of a hammock on our top deck, surrounded by jungle, mangoes and cashews blooming on trees all around as we go for a walk, being able to wear shorts year round. I’d say it’s worth putting up with the little invaders, as long as I’ve got my can of Raid!