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Dou You Use Bug Spray a Lot in Mexico?
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A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!


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Sept. 22, 2006 — I got this question from a reader:

I have been thinking bout moving to mexico, but the bug problem is a BIG problem 4 me. After wearing bug spray day in and day out, does that not take a toll on your skin as well as your health. Whudda think?

Hmm, I have never in my life worn more bug spray than I did in the Yucatan as a kid… oh, unless it was when I was in a malarial part of West Africa on a workcamp when I was a college student. But both those experiences are long behind me, and I got malaria anyway.

I don’t really know the answer to this question, so dear readers, please jump in if you do.

Here at about 5000 feet elevation in the central part of Mexico, the only times I have been driven to use bug spray have been during the later part of the rainy season, which is just now beginning to wind down. There were mosquitos earlier, but not many and pretty lazy biters so I didn’t use spray much. Now, if we decide to eat on the porch in the evening, I do spray my ankles.

When we have been at Mexican beaches, I have been more diligent about bug spray but we are rarely there more than a week or two. But if you were to live in a coastal area, you might be looking at the day in day out situation. In that case, it would be good to shower in the evenings, and scrub off the sprays. Also, I tend to use more natural sprays now, where before I was still a fan of better living through chemistry.

Hope this helps.

UPDATE 2009: There have been a very few cases of dengue fever in the Lake Chapala area, a reason to use spray.

Comments from the old blog:

  • mary(atlanta) said…

    Thank u, it does! i really thought that it was terrible anywhere u went in mexico. I guess its not that bad, eh?

  • I said…

    It’s not that bad here, but it’s really really bad in some places. Mexico has a wide variety of climates!

  • jose said…

    Mary, your question is rather unusual. Mexico is a large country with very diverse climate, geography and flora, all of which can have an effect on the amount and size of bugs. If you are planning to trek thru the Chiapan jungles, you might want to bring a flyswatter and long pants. If you are going to be going out for dinner in San Miguel, Queretaro, Guadalajara, Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta, etc, you probably will not experience any more bugs than you would in most parts of the US.

    I have never worn bug spray in Mexico. My family does not wear bug spray in Mexico. I don’t know anyone that wears bug spray in Mexico. I imagine bug spray must be available here, but I have not ever seen it. We live in the highlands, where the climate is temperate and semiarid; consequently, there really are not that many bug differences between this part of Mex and most of the US.

    I don’t know many places in the world where the bugs are so thick that you might want to consider wearing bug spray day in and day out. Bugs are a part of the natural world, and they don’t tend to bother you in Mexico any more than they do elsewhere. However, being that you are from Atlanta, it may be that there are many large and offensive bugs there, and so you think perhaps it may be similar in Mexico. As a general rule, American bugs are quite a bit more offensive than Mexican bugs, in my experience. American bugs seem more bloodthirsty, whereas Mexican bugs are rather more laissez faire when it comes to diet. Mexican bugs on the whole just seem so much more accomodating. It may simply be a matter of culture.

    The one exception is in San Blas, quite famous for the vicious noseeums that haunt the beaches after sunset. I would recommend that you bring some bug spray if you plan on visiting San Blas, otherwise a very quaint little seaside village where Fray Junipero Serra lived briefly before he started on his voyage to found the missions in Alta California. Contrary to some populare mythology, he did not leave because of the bugs.

    I would also suggest that, when you find a few itchy bites around the surface veins on your ankles, you might consider being flattered that the bugs found your blood so sweet. Mexican mosquitos can be quite discerning in their taste, as I have friends who have come and gone without so much as a little nibble from a bug, probably because their blood was either too sour or perhaps too rich to attract more than a passing interest from a mosquito, let alone a swarm of mosquitos which would in some fashion thereby necessitate a bath in bug spray.

    As for me, I would rather have an itchy ankle than spend my days and eves in a miasma of chemicals.

    So, mary, is the bug problem that bad in Atlanta? Do you wear spray day in and day out there? Do you not find it taking some toll on your skin, health, and general well-being? If so, sounds like you should definitely move down to Mexico.

  • I said…

    Jose, now I understand why the mosquitoes have been fiercer lately. It’s the beginning of the time when people come back to Mexico from the US and Canada. These mosquitos must be of that culture!

    (You had me howling with laughter when I hit that part.)

  • jose said…

    I am glad you got the joke rosana, I was just trying to be silly…

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