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How to Live with Insects in Jungle

FINCA TATIN, Jungle near Livingston, Guatemala- When living in the rain forest you live with insects. The human no longer sits alone on an “I eat you but you don’t eat me” pedestal when in jungle climes. In the jungle, the human is food — food for insects.

How do you live with insects in the jungle?

You can fight them with repellent, you can dodge them with mosquito nets, take malaria provolaxis, but, ultimately, you cannot travel through the jungle without being bitten by insects hundreds upon hundreds of times. The only thing you can do in the jungle is to live with insects, accept being bitten, and deal with it. Get use to being the feast.

Legs that have been scratched in the Guatemala jungle. Just about anybody would look like this if they scratched their insect bites.

But there is a trick to living with insects in the jungle, there is a simple trick to make the bites less itchy, it even keeps them from rising up to the surface:

The trick to is to not scratch.

Don’t scratch your insect bites in the jungle.

If you do you will quickly look like one giant mumpy sore.

It was a mystery how the people who live out here in the Guatemala jungle seem to be unaffected by insect bites. Even people who were born elsewhere and moved into the jungle seemed unfazed by the rapture of blood sucking insects. The people who live here do not complain about the bugs, they do not have bumps all over them, no red spots, it is almost as if they are not even being bitten at all. They do not use repellent, they are definitely not taking malaria meds, they seem immune to mosquitoes.

In a way, they are.

The people who live out in the jungle are bitten by mosquitoes like everyone else, they just don’t scratch them.

When the tourists complain incessantly and end up looking like a polka dotted table cloth in only a couple of days of staying here while the people who live here seem unaffected their is a reason: the visitor’s scratch, the locals know better. Both are patterns of habit.

If you don’t scratch, you won’t itch (as much).

If you don’t scratch a mosquito bite, it goes away with very little affect. The people who live here are not covered in mosquito bites because they let them be — they don’t scratch, rub, or further proliferate the annoyance of the mosquito, sand fly, or horse fly.

People in the jungle live with the insects in the jungle — mosquitoes, sand flies, and other insects that bite humans are a normal part of life.


I found myself idle scratching my knee the other day. I did not think to check my fingers, once I started scratching it felt so good that I gave in for a moment. I scratched.

Within a few moments my entire knee swelled up in a mass of red bumps. More than 50 in all. I looked down, amazed: a moment before my knee was plain skin color, there was no indication that I was bitten by insects there multiple times, but now it was covered in bumps — and itched real bad.

They were sand fly bites, which, in my opinion, are vastly more uncomfortable than that of mosquitoes.

I scratched, I made my sand fly bites exponentially worse. If I continued doing this, I would be as bumpy as a back country road. I feel the bumps on my knee, they are all raised and swollen. I look down in surprise.

I realize that I cannot scratch here in the jungle, no matter what.

Related articles: Skin Care in Jungle First Priority

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Filed under: Central America, Guatemala, Health, Rain Forests

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3167 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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