I hadn’t realized the bugs in Nicaragua were such a part of my life until I went back to the US for a visit. Every time a strand of hair caressed my cheek or neck, I’d swat it away as if it was another insect tormenting me. I remember looking around one day and wondering, “Where are all the insects?”
I don’t know if it’s because Nicaragua is a jungle compared to California, but the lack of creepy-crawlies Stateside surprised me. Here in San Juan del Sur, I could see a new bug every week.
There are a thousand of types of beetles, we have ants in all shapes & sizes (and biting ability), and of course, the ever-pestering mosquitoes. When the rain arrives, there is a daily rebirth of new insects.
Moths, beetles, and swarming termites; all make a nighttime debut and remind me why we keep screens on all our windows.
Here are the top six bugs in Nicaragua that are part of my daily life year-round.
It’s not surprising that mosquitos are a problem here. It only takes a little homework before visiting to know one thing you should pack for sure is bug spray. What I didn’t realize is how much they would love my two-year-old child’s blood. Poor guy has scabs and scars all down his legs from the bites he’s scratched. Because of this, I make sure I spray him down before going outside after dark and – during the worst season – before going to bed at night. I always carry a cream in my purse in case we find ourselves in an infestation.
I’m lucky mosquitos don’t bite me too much. Or it could be they fill up on my son and my husband’s blood first, before bothering with me. There’s always mysterious splats of blood on our bed sheets on my husband’s side of the bed. Our house cleaner explained that it’s from him rolling over on a nice plump mosquito. Yuck!
2. Unidentified Small Annoying Insects
We don’t watch much TV in Nicaragua, but my husband and I do enjoy lying in bed after the kids are asleep and watching Netflix together. Snuggled up in our dark bedroom with only the glow of the computer, we take turns swatting and sweeping tiny bugs off the screen. This habit and the weekly cleaning of our screens have gotten to be so normal for us. It’s funny how you adapt and carry on with life as it is now.
Don’t call PETA on me, but one of my favorite pastimes is to go out at night and the raid wasp nests I find constructed around the inside and outside of our house. I have a great feeling of accomplishment when I check on the nest the next day and see the pile of dead wasps on the floor below. Then, using a broom handle, it’s safe to knock the nest to the ground and sweep up the remains. Getting stung by wasps is not good, and the time my daughter was stung it halted our fun for over an hour, so now I’m a wasp-killer and I’m okay with that.
I had no idea there were so many species of ants until moving to Nicaragua. Just when I thought I’d seen them all, these large black ants moved into my bathroom. They were so big, you’d think you were looking at them through a microscope!
Then we have the teeny-tiny ants that will smell a crumb as it is falling off your morning toast. I have to ziplock a lot of our food, so they don’t infest it. I used to wonder why so many of the snacks here come in one serving size, I realize now it’s because of the ants.
And there are the biting ants, which at first glance look like normal ants, but if you take a closer look you’ll see their heads are larger to hold their monster teeth. Oh, the screams I’ve heard from my kids when they place their foot next to a biting ant colony by accident.
5. Jumping Spiders
I’m not sure what species of spider these larger, hopping creatures are. Someone told me once they’re a type of tarantula, but in my research, I also found they might be some type of huntsman spider.
Whatever they are, there are tons of them in and around my house. They love dark corners and will surprise you when you pick up a broom or move a backpack that was on the floor.
They are not vicious or poisonous, but the fact they jump is unnerving. Lucky for me, my cat finds them delicious.
Yes, you read that right – we have scorpions here. These creepy creatures frighten me. Scorpions like dark places, so we’re always cautious about not putting clothes on the floor.
One time my husband drove to town on his motorcycle with a massive scorpion on his backpack without realizing. Since then we’ve learned to handle anything left on the floor with great care.
We taught the kids to always shake out their shoes before putting them on and to wear shoes when going outside in the grass.
I always worry as I watch my kids reach into their toy boxes, but so far they have not been stung.
From the outside looking in, it might seem like living here with the surplus of bugs is more difficult, or even scary. But with the security of knowing none of the bugs in Nicaragua can cause severe harm, life with these creatures is all part of the adventure.
Before I moved to Nicaragua I never would have imagined a daily routine revolving around these tiny critters. Although bothersome, these insects have shown me how adaptable I can be.
Jenna Reid moved to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua with her husband and two kids in March 2015. She helps her husband operate a website development company and she enjoys freelance writing. Her personal blog is The 1 Less Traveled By.