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Pests

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Jan 1, 2022

Travellers may encounter animal pests that they are not familiar with in their home regions. Pests can spoil food, cause irritation, or in a worse case cause allergic reactions, spread venom, or transmit infections. Infectious diseases themselves, or dangerous animals that can injure or kill people by force, do not usually qualify as pests. There is a separate article on poisonous plants.

Wikivoyage articles have a Stay Healthy section with location-specific advice. This article contains general information relevant to many destinations.

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Those who sleep with dogs will rise with fleas.

—International proverb

Pests behave differently. Among high-risk locations are low-income urban neighbourhoods, tropical regions, wetlands, stagnant bodies of water, and high vegetation. Food and animal feed tend to attract pests.

In general, pests are more prolific during warm and wet seasons; especially insects, which reproduce fast.

The common black ants are a problem mainly because they get into food. However, there are types of ants that can make for an uncomfortable or even dangerous encounter. The three types of stinging ants are:

Long mandibles and big eyes of a bull ant
  • Bull ants – around 90 species of ant endemic to Australia and New Caledonia, identified by their slender bodies 15-40 mm long, large eyes, and long mandibles
  • Fire ants – 285 species worldwide, typically with black-reddish bodies, 2-6 millimeters in length
  • Ponerine ants – 1,600 species worldwide, which can be identified by a very constricted “waist” and large body size

Ant stings can really hurt, and accidentally walking on a fire ant nest can give a person – especially a toddler – an experience they won’t soon forget. Though painful, bites will usually clear up within a couple of days if left alone. For cases where there are multiple bites, hydrocortizone or aloe vera is sometimes applied topically, or antihistamines may be taken orally. A few unfortunate people are allergic, and for such people stings may lead to anaphylactic shock, which can be lethal.

#Permethrin-treated_fabrics kill ants, as well as other insects, that crawl on them.

Bedbug bites

These tiny nuisances tend to nest under beds or in other furniture, coming out at night to feed on the blood of unsuspecting victims who typically do not feel bites at the time. Infestation can be found almost anywhere in the world – they are most common in less developed areas but are becoming an increasingly common problem in the developed world as well. Bites are typically nothing serious and may be hardly noticeable, but can sometimes provoke rashes, allergic reactions, or other skin irritations. If you are travelling cheap and happen to detect a faint odor of rotten raspberries in your hotel room, or if you find small, mysterious red bites on your skin in the morning, you might consider changing your choice of accommodations. Sleep tight!

You do not want to take these home with you. Avoid unpacking into places where the bugs may be dwelling and wash your spare clothes before the bugs have a chance to hide away.

#Permethrin-treated_fabrics kill bedbugs. Treating items like your sleeping bag or pajamas can partially protect you from bites, and treating your backpack can prevent them getting into spare clothes.

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. . . Pests . . .