As the saying goes, “If you stay long enough in paradise, you’re bound to get bitten by mosquitos” – Bert Mccoy may well have been discussing Puerto Rico’s mosquito season. The country has a reputation for its vampirical insects, with mosquitos active all year round. The chances are, if you visit Puerto Rico, you’ll come back with a bite or two.
While this may seem a minor concern, mosquitos are one of the most dangerous animals in Puerto Rico. A tiny mosquito can transmit serious diseases like dengue fever, resulting in at best unpleasant symptoms and at worst death. Responsibly dealing with mosquitos is essential when visiting Puerto Rico, as you don’t want your health or holiday enjoyment compromised.
Fortunately, you can limit the risk against mosquitos. From carefully choosing the month of your visit, avoiding mosquito-prone areas, and packing useful equipment, there’s plenty to consider. To help you mosquito-proof your trip, we’ve compiled a guide to the Puerto Rico mosquito season.
What months are mosquitos most active in Puerto Rico?
Unfortunately, mosquitos are active all year round in Puerto Rico. However, they are most active around the summer months.
If you want to limit mosquito encounters, avoid visiting Puerto Rico between May and November. These months are prime for mosquitos, and you are more likely to be bitten as the mosquito population increases.
Puerto Rico’s climate is hot yet rainy between May and November – the mosquito’s favorite combination and breeding conditions. The rain results in lots of still bodies of water, which often become stagnant in heat. Female mosquitos use the standing water to lay their larvae, depositing up to 200 eggs each time!
Are mosquitos a problem in Puerto Rico?
Mosquitos are somewhat of a problem, although Puerto Ricans and expats are experienced in managing the risks and limiting their impact. Mosquitos are more likely to be problematic for tourists who aren’t prepared and are therefore easier prey.
Because of mosquitos, Puerto Rico does experience cases of the Zika virus, dengue fever, and occasionally malaria. Estimates state that dengue fever causes around 1,000 hospitalizations annually and is the most significant health risk related to mosquitos in Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rico mosquito season has health risks and should be avoided for a less stressful experience but is mostly manageable.
Do all mosquitos carry diseases?
Mosquitoes only transmit diseases when they are infected. Therefore, if you have been bitten, you don’t need to worry straight away!
In Puerto Rico, there is a higher proportion of infected mosquitos than in cooler countries like the UK. But this does not mean that every mosquito bite will definitely infect you. Most diseases spread by mosquitos have an incubation period of between a couple of days and two weeks. So, if you do get bitten, it is best to monitor your health and document any symptoms that may arise in the weeks following the bite.
Interestingly, it is only female mosquitos that bite us. Male mosquitos do not bite humans and therefore do not spread viruses and diseases to people. It might be reassuring to know that only half the mosquito population has the potential to give us diseases. And, even amongst female mosquitos, the spreaders have to be infected.
Where are mosquitos found in Puerto Rico?
Mosquitos are mostly found in the humid lowland areas of Puerto Rico.
Mosquito populations thrive in humid environments with plenty of still or slow-moving water. Therefore, forests, lakes, and rivers are all hotspots for mosquitos in Puerto Rico. When visiting natural areas like El Yunque National Forest, you should be prepared for large mosquito populations.
However, especially in the Puerto Rico mosquito season, you’ll find lots of mosquitos in lowland urban areas as well. Even warm puddles of rainwater become perfect environments for them!
What kind of mosquitos are in Puerto Rico?
Culex and Aedes mosquitos are the most common in Puerto Rico.
Culex mosquitos are yellowish in color with darker patches. In size, they are typically around a quarter of an inch long and narrow in shape. Culex mosquitos are spreaders of West Nile fever, certain Encephalitis viruses, and the Zika virus.
Aedes mosquitos are dark in color with distinctive light scales that often look like a dot pattern. Aedes mosquitos are smaller than Culex mosquitos, typically only around 0.1 inches long. However, these little fellas still pack quite a punch. Aedes mosquitos are spreaders of Dengue fever, Chikungunya, Zika, and Yellow Fever.
While it might be hard to identify mosquitos quickly considering their small size, it can be helpful to know which bit you. If possible, pay attention to which mosquitos you see.
How do I get rid of mosquitos in Puerto Rico?
Prevention is key in the Puerto Rico mosquito season and, in fact, when dealing with mosquitos all year round. While you may struggle to ‘get rid of mosquitos’, there are definite steps to limit your unwanted encounters.
Before visiting Puerto Rico, consult your doctor about possible vaccinations and preventative medications. Your doctor can help you decide which options are best for you, consulting up-to-date logs of mosquito-related health issues.
When in Puerto Rico, incorporate reputable, reliable mosquito repellent into your daily routine. Ditch the perfume (which can attract mosquitos) and swap it for some citrusy bug spray!
Of course, certain areas and conditions are more prone to mosquitos. Avoid booking accommodation near lakes, rivers, and forests, where insects are more populous due to the humidity. Leave windows and balconies closed as much as possible to limit insects entering your room as well.
Similarly, mosquitos are most active at dawn and nightfall. Therefore, you might want to avoid being vulnerable at these times or remember to pack your bug spray if you are dining al fresco in the evening.
In general, loose, long clothing is the best way to prevent mosquito bites – so pack mozzie-proof clothing as well as skimpy shorts and bikinis!