As a biology major and world traveler bugs have been a continuous, 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 in different countries. I had a serious bout with tick fever in college in Texas 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 dive deep and do a diligent discovery of the biting bugs in Belize.

Sign of Belize

Be prepared to prevent bug bites or be prepared to suffer the painful possible consequences after being bitten.

People who 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 possible consequences after being bitten. 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

Residents, travelers and tourists may have a keen interest in knowing more about the biting bugs in Belize. After fourteen trips to Belize there are a number of both bummer and beneficial educational experiences and lessons learned 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 others may simply sting you as a self defense mechanism.

Biting Bugs in Belize

There are a wide variety of biting bugs in Belize to be aware of if your health, safety and environment are important.

  • Ants

    Army Ants are known to bite with their strong jaws.

    Army Ants are known to bite with their strong jaws. This can cause some skin discomfort but also allows them to hold on while they sting you. The sting is much worse than the bite and can fester into a pustule. If scratched they can allow bacteria to enter the wound and become infected. They travel in very large numbers so if you see them be sure to stay clear. They are know to be aggressive and kill other insects and even small animals, birds, frogs and lizards.

  • There are many varieties of ants in Belize.
  • Bed bugs typically bite at night to get a blood meal while you are sleeping. They can survive and even thrive in wooden beds, floors and furniture. Travelers often unknowingly carry them to new destinations in their clothing, backpack and suitcase.
  • Bot Fly do not bite humans. Instead the egg is transported by another biting insect like a mosquito and an egg is deposited this way. The larva can then grow in the body of host. Females can also deposit their eggs directly on a host. The Bot fly eggs can hatch and larvae can enter a natural body opening or penetrate the skin if allowed to reside after hatching.
  • Botlass Fly also called bad-ass fly or black fly bite and leave a small signature dot of dried blood at the bite site. These are a major nuisance and often lead to itching and rash. Scratching the bite site can lead to infections and serious scarring.
  • Centipedes use a pair of hollow legs, adapted with claws, to bite into the skin. Their pincer type poison claws are found under the first body segment and can cause small puncture wounds and blisters when the centipede crawls across the skin. A centipede bites and injects venom stored in internal glands into victims.
  • Doctor Fly are yellow and have a very painful bite. Usually the Doctor fly is out when the sun is out and when it is warm. They can be persistent and will follow you until they get a bite to eat. Often they can land and bite before you realize they are there. The arms, head and legs are particularly vulnerable when exposed during outdoor activities near trees and vegetation.
  • Chiggers also called harvest mites or red bugs are very small and are not usually seen without magnification. Typically the crawl on you for a while until they find a thin layer of skin to bite to feed.  Then later it shows up as itching and rash around 12 or 24 hours later. They like to bite the ankles around the sock, the waistband of your clothes or your armpit. Chiggers don’t really bite in the traditional sense. They actually attach themselves to our skin, inject digestive enzymes in their saliva which helps break down skin cells. Then the chigger drinks this liquid which results. The enzymes cause the itchy rash later.
  • Fire ants commonly attack the ankles, feet, hands and legs when disturbed. They can grab with their jaws and sting you to inject a venom. Often when the ant mound is disturbed you can be stung by hundreds of fire ants if you do not react quickly enough. While there mounds are usually quite visible it is easy to not see one that is covered in grass or weeds.
  • Gnats – There are six species that travel up to ten miles to get a blood meal from animals or humans. Of the biting gnat species Buffalo gnats are most common. Gnats don’t pierce the skin like a mosquito. Gnats have four cutters inside their mouth and cut the skin and inject an anti-clotting agent to prevent the wound from forming a blood clot so they can feed. A gnat can freely suck blood and their bite is often more painful than mosquito bites.
  • Horse fly bites often occurs to people around the world. A member of  the Tabanidae family there are over 3000 varieties of horseflies around the world. The three most common of these species are black horsefly, green-head horsefly and stripped horsefly. Horseflies  breed and dwell on marshy or wet areas near bodies of water. They are extremely active during warm sunny conditions. Female horseflies feed on the blood of animals and humans. Male horsefly feed on nectar and pollen. A horsefly bite can be painful and lead to infections.
  • Kissing Bug Belize

    Kissing Bug (Triatoma Dimidiata) transmits Chagas Disease can be very serious.

    Kissing Bug (Triatoma Dimidiata) transmits Chagas Disease can be very serious. This disease is transmitted as the bug feeds on blood. Here is a link for more information about and a picture of the kissing bug.

  • Leaf cutter ants have a very painful bite so stay clear of their trails and watch with caution. If you want to see leaf cutter ants in action and how hard they can bite watch this Youtube video with  Coyote Peterson.
  • Midget is the common name for a very aggressive and annoying pest species. Other names include: black flies, gnats, moose flies, no-see-ums, pinyon gnats, punkies. A Purdue University report shares biting midges are flies (Order Diptera) in the family Ceratopogonidae, which includes over 4, 000 species in 78 genera worldwide. Species in only four genera of biting midges feed on the blood of mammals. The genera of greatest importance to animal and human health in the U.S. are Culicoides, Leptoconops, and Forcipomyia.
  • Mosquitoes are small midge-like flies that constitute the family Culicidae. Female mosquitoes bite animals and humans to feed and are considered ecto-parasites. They have tube like mouth parts called a proboscis that pierces the skin of a host to feed on blood. Mosquito is the Spanish word for a little fly. Mosquitoes can transmit parasites and viruses that cause diseases like Dengue Fever, Equine encephalitis, Malaria, West Nile, Zika and more.
  • Sand fly: There are an estimated to be 600 species of phlebotomine (sand flies) in the world, including 14 species in the U. S. Only one of these species bites humans.
  • Sand fleas: as the name implies are typically found at the beach on the sand.
  • Spiders are venomous because that is how they hunt and kill prey. Most people think spiders are too small or their venom too weak to be dangerous to humans. This is a big mistake. Black widow and brown recluse spiders are often considered the most venomous. Although other countries also have a widow spider called the redback spider.
  • Ticks are small spider like arachnids that bite to fasten themselves onto skin and feed on the blood of animals and humans. Ticks live in the feathers and fur of many birds and animals. While some websites say, “Most ticks do not carry diseases, and most don’t cause serious health problems,” every tick bite should be taken very seriously due to the potential risks involved. It is vitally important to remove a tick as soon as you find it. Removing the head and tick body can help you avoid diseases the tick may pass on to you. Even after removing a tick there is the risk of an infection in the skin where it bit you. Lyme disease is a serious risk that seems to be spreading to many areas.

Stinging Insects in Belize

  • Army ants and Fire ants are a serious concern in Belize due to the large number of stings that can occur from a disturbed mound and the potent venom they inject. The more ants that sting you the worse the problems you may face.
  • Asps are typically stinging caterpillars belong to the insect family known as flannel moths. Flannel moths get their name from the flannel-like appearance of the wings of the adult. The immature stages are caterpillars which are clothed with fine hairs and venomous spines. When brushed against the skin the spines produce a painful rash or sting. Best known as asp, puss mouth caterpillar or stinging caterpillar. See the story Pain in the Asp for more details.
  • Bee in Belize

    Bees are plentiful in Belize and like other parts of the world a present a potential painful pest if disturbed.

    Bees are plentiful in Belize and like other parts of the world a present a potential painful pest if disturbed. Unfortunately in Belize the aggressive African wild bees known as killer bees are firmly established. When disturbed these African wild bees become very aggressive and attack and can even follow you to pursue the attack. It can take some fast action on your part to escape and evade these aggressive bees if the hive is disturbed.

  • Scorpions are a member of the Arachnida class and are closely related to mites, spiders and ticks. Scorpions have two pincers, 8 legs and an elongated body with a tail composed of segments. The last tail segment contains the stinger that transmits a toxin to the site of the sting. Although about 2000 species exist most scorpions are harmless and only about 25-40 species can deliver enough venom to cause serious damage to humans.
  • Wasps can cause a very painful sting. Unfortunately wasps can sting you more than once since their defensive stinger is not barbed so it can inject venom more than once.