The tropics are lush with life, the heat and rainfall make it the perfect for the biggest biodiversity on the planet. More than half of all animals and plants live in tropical rainforest even though they only cover around 2% of the planet. No one is sure exactly how many species live in tropical rainforest, estimates range wildly from 3 million to 50 million. While so much life is a good thing it also caries with it the consequence of harboring nibbling insects ready to dig into your skin.
Though there are a huge number of insects, the bites vary significantly in 2 ways, venomous and non-venomous. While non-venomous bites can still cause irritation, and cause you to scratch like a possessed crack fiend, they are generally harmless. Most insect bites will simply result in red swollen lumps that are itchy or even painful. Though walking around looking like you came straight out of a circus freak show is perhaps undesirable, unless of course you’re into that. Insects that are poisonous or disease carrying on the other hand can cause heaps more trouble.
The most common problem you’ll come across are mosquitos. Mosquitos are responsible for more human death than all of humanities wars combined, they are really no laughing matter. In fact, they are responsible for 1 million human deaths a year. The majority of the deaths are due to malaria, though dengue is also a huge health concern with mosquitos. They can also be carries of the west nile virus. The symptoms of these diseases aren’t pretty either, from fever and shakes, to bloody stools and vomiting, or even a coma and death. Prevention here is absolutely crucial.
Leaving out food, and especially sweet foods is a big no in the tropics. Before you know it, you’ll be swarmed by a colony of ants, breaking their backs to deliver food back to their nest. The ants come in all manner of variety, and some deliver bites that’ll send you down to the depths of hell as you wince in disbelief that something so small can cause so much pain. In the tropics you also have the risk of sand flies, these can leave you looking like you walked straight out a horror movie with red marks all over. Spiders can pose a poisonous risk when it comes to bites, especially if you’re in a country like Australia, which seems to harbor all the world poisonous animals. Ticks, lice, bed bugs are also waiting in the wings and ready to latch on to your sweet juicy skin/scalp.
While some insects simply bite, the more painful ones sting. If you thought those ant bites were painful wait until you have a try at the sting of a wasp. Wasp bring back fond memories of childhood to me, if withering on the floor in pain can be called fond memories. Now you may think that at least the wasp dies afterwards, but you’d be wrong, bees do die after stinging you, but wasp and hornets are free to attack again. So yeah, run. Just kidding they’re probably faster than you, you may as well lay on the ground and submit defeat to your wasp overlords. Allergies are also a fairly common risk when it comes to insect, and especially bee and wasp bites, along with infections that can occur on the bite site. To avoid these problems we will be looking at the best ways to avoid, and treat insects bites on part two. Stay tuned, or get eaten alive. Your choice really.