Bugs / Worms, Belize
While we were on our guided jungle walk in the Community Baboon Sanctuary at Bermudian Landing, Sue and the guide walked past a large termite nest that had fallen off a tree trunk and was lying in the middle of the trail. Being an inquisitive sort, I stopped to have a closer look at it and could see that it was partially broken open and that there were scores of black insects moving around. I did not think too much of it at first knowing that termites are harmless, until these things started to fly and land on me. It was then that the guide turned around and said "BEEs - everyone run for it!" He and Sue had to make a running retreat past the nest on the narrow trail while I swatted away at the 15-20 odd bees that had landed on various parts of my bare skin (it was handy that we had bought a palm frond swatter off him for a souvenir at the start of our tour)! I was wondering why these small black bees did not seem to be inflicting much pain on me (in fact, nothing more than an annoyance). It turns out that there is such a thing as a stingless variety of bee!
Historical records show that variety of stingless bees have been native to Belize for thousands of years, thanks to the cultivation efforts of the lowland Maya. In addition to providing honey, the bees were also used in religious ceremonies. Although they are sting-less, it is said that the bees can inflict a nasty bite, although I did not suffer any ill effects or pain. There are many species of stingless bees in tropical America (and other places in the world) where they nest in hollow tree trunks, holes in the ground or abandoned nests (I can confirm that one!).
While studying herbal medicine in Belize, a travel friend got an infestation of worms that worked their way through her blood system until ultimately, the worms crawled out from 100's of boil-like growths all over her body. The infestation also made her very sick for many months.
The simple truth is, most pets (and some humans for that matter) are not very well cared for in the developing world and can carry a slew of diseases, parasites, worms, etc.
It's extremely tempting (and natural) to want to relax in the heat and lose the footwear, but you've gotta' think of what lurks below your tootsies. So, unless you are willing to deal with the possibility of this (or something much worse) happening to you.... don't go barefoot.
The Doctor Fly is one of those pesky buggers that bite you repeatedly before you even know you've been bitten. For some, like me, you have a reaction to the bite that will cause itching irritation and swelling for days on end of which during the night you forget and scratch open.
When trekking through the jungle these little blood suckers fall on you and embed themselves into your skin. Although not dangerous, like their Canadian counterparts, they are a pain in the *ss. Literally!!! If you have one wedged in there, there's only one way to them out. You'd better hope your significant other REALLY loves you :-)
A 45 minute soak in the cave entrance will get rid of them. 95% deet will not help much, just melt everything you touch, including your skin. Covering up (head to toe) helps a bit though.
I don't know when I was bitten, possibly on my horseback ride through the jungle. It was just a mosquito bite I thought. I came home and was still scratching at this really itchy mosquito bite on the back of my head. Then I noticed the lymph nodes on my neck had swollen up, as though it had gotten infected. So I went to the doctor and took antibiotics for a week. Still no improvement. And by now I was occassionally experiencing excruciating pain. I went back to the doctor and was referred to a surgeon who decided to cut open the spot on my head. Turns out I had been bitten by a mosquito carrying bot fly eggs, and the larvae had then burrowed in under my skin. That little white larvae was the most disgusting thing I could have imagined, and probably the most painful, and it had been living in me and hurting me for weeks! Turns out if I'd known what it was I could have slathered on something like vaseline and forced the larvae far enough out for air to grab it. Do be careful of mosquito bites that just don't seem to be going away, and that then become extraordinarily painful, especially in the morning.
We were lucky to have stayed in places with lots of netting around the cabannas to keep out the little bugs. On the beach, make sure you cover up from the sandflies after the sun sets. In the jungle it wasn't so bad as the mountain breeze keeps the pesky bugs at bay, however for those of you with sweeter blood, make sure you bring a spray and wrap up.
If trekking through any grazing land (almost everywhere) make sure you use deet to keep off the ticks. I saw one and it was pretty gross.
It's a case of better safe than sorry. Belize does not have a pharmacy on every corner, so make sure you bring any drugs/medication you need with you.
Okay, I normally don't complain about mosquitos since I'm an island girl, but the mosquitos here were horrible. I came prepared for them with Off repelent with a high dose of deet, but even though I applied the Off these pesky annoying mosquitos seemed to love my blood. I was bitten in one location at least 6 times from what appared to be the same mosquito, yikes!! They sure do itch.
Aaron, one of our guides, was telling us that they don't call Belize the Mosquito Coast for nothing and that the repellent is more like a salad dressing.
Still, I would recommend that you take precautions and apply the wonderful smelling scent of Off Mosquito repellent so you won't be eaten alive and walk away with only a few "battle scares"
Some people go bananas when they see the little gecko like lizards on the walls of their hotel rooms in the tropics. Don't worry about them. They will never come near you. They are paid by the hotel owners to eat the mosquitos -haha! Some of them even make an occasional little chirping sound that is really very cute. Anyway- they were there before you got there, so you are really intruding on THEIR territory.
I don't know much about this bug. But I think the parasite that it carries eventually affects your heart to the point that you need a transplant. So sleep under netting and don't worry.
If you see any caterpillars while in Belize I have been told DO NOT TOUCH! Apparently they can give you a nasty rash.
We found this little fellow in our bathroom! Be careful where you stick your hands... =) Also, the mosquitos are horrendous! Make sure you take lots of strong repellent!