Sandflies can be a nuisance and in a few cases quite dangerous, so it is best to be aware that they exist and learn what you can do to ensure they do not ruin your vacation. Most visitors to tropical climates are aware that there may be bugs with which they do not want to get too friendly. They are usually worried about mosquitoes, but few people are aware that sandflies can actually pose a bigger threat to the enjoyment of their vacation.
What is a sandfly?
People call all sorts of small biting insects sandflies. Wikipedia states: “Sandfly (or sand fly) is a colloquial name for any species or genus of flying, biting, bloodsucking Dipteran encountered in sandy areas.” They are difficult to see as they are much smaller than mosquitoes.
Why are sandflies a problem?
The female of the species bites and sucks your blood. The bite itself is not dangerous or very painful, but it can cause itching and in some people severe allergic reactions. If bites are scratched, they can get infected and become very painful. Some people do not seem to be bothered by sandflies at all while others are ravaged by these creatures. Locals do not seem to be affected, so it may be that they build up an immunity to sandfly bites.
Where and when are sandflies found?
Some people say they cannot fly, but jump. If they do fly, they cannot fly very far as sandflies will only be found very close to the wet sandy beaches and in vegetation like seaweed. So unless you have been sitting or lying on the beach, you will only get bitten around the ankles and feet. And only in the early hours of the morning and at dusk.
How can one protect oneself?
If you have an allergic reaction to sandfly bites, it is best for you to stay away from the beach at dawn and dusk. If that is not possible, then you should cover your body, especially your feet and lower legs. Socks and shoes on the beach may not look attractive, but it is better to look a bit strange than to be a meal for these creatures. There are many personal insect repellents that keep away sandflies, so investing in one that suits you is a good idea.
Because some people do not see sandflies and do not feel it when they are bitten, they may think that they have been bitten by bedbugs. The Trelawny Health Department in Jamaica has advised that there have been no incidents of bedbugs reported for decades. Once when visitors complained of bedbugs, they would not believe that they were bitten by sandflies, but the health inspector examined everywhere and found no trace of bedbugs. He advised that bedbugs are not too small to be seen and that one can smell their presence.
If you do return from your vacation and you develop itching bites which have become painful, you should see a doctor for professional advice and care. When you are enjoying a beach vacation in Jamaica villas, cottages or apartments, it’s best to be aware and take precautions against sandflies, especially if you are predisposed to allergic reactions.