Samui Wining & Dining
CREEPY CRAWLIES
Here are ‘the small five’ best avoided on Samui.

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An article about insects on Samui wouldn’t be worth reading if it didn’t start with the most annoying insect of all time - the pesky mosquito. Yes, that annoying sound you hear while you are just drifting off to sleep at night. While sometimes only thought of as a nuisance, they actually transmit quite a few diseases including malaria and dengue fever. There are roughly 25,000 reported cases of malaria each year in Thailand, but these tend to be in the more rural areas. The trick is to cover yourself from head to toe in the highest percentage DEET anti-mosquito spray you can afford, and keep your windows and doors shut at night. Not always so easy in a hot country.

          

Some say eating garlic or Thai herbs will keep the pests away. Maybe burning coils or spraying citronella will reduce your contact, but no matter what you do, make sure you have Tiger Balm handy as this applied immediately after being bitten, will rapidly reduce the swelling and itching.

          

Next on the list are centipedes. Some Thai people fear these multi-legged beasties more than snakes. These colourful creatures, sometimes around ten

centimetres long with many legs, can have quite an attitude and if you get bitten, it can easily ruin your holiday. The bitten area can swell up and throb painfully for over a week, and your desire to lie in the sun and drink cocktails

          

will be severely diminished. There are smaller harmless ones too, but they tend to roll into a ball when attacked. The actual poison from a centipede’s sting will not kill you; it’s your body’s allergic reaction to the bite that causes problems. When heading to hospital, they will treat this reaction rather than the actual bite.

          

Ah spiders. Not technically an insect but rather an arachnid, but included here under the title of ‘creepy crawlies’.

 

Spiders are the stuff of nightmares (that’s if you’ve managed to get to sleep with the mosquitoes). These eight-legged creatures strike fear into the hearts of both men and women alike. In Thailand, most of the spiders are harmless (emphasis on the word ‘most’). There are very big ones which measure several centimetres across. These are cane spiders and are actually harmless.

Here are ‘the small five’ best avoided on Samui.

In fact, they don’t even bite. They do a really good job of catching and eating flying cockroaches, so really you should be welcoming them into your home.

          

There are, however, some spiders that you don’t really want to mess with. We’d have to mention the beloved tarantula. This genus is found in the rain forests of South East Asia as they need high humidity levels to survive. The black tarantula can be found in Thailand, but don’t worry, on Samui you’ve got nothing really to worry about. While the spiders here might bite, and the bites might hurt, they aren’t dangerous.

          

Black scorpions are the most common variety in Thailand. Again, not so much an insect as an arachnid. Their sting isn’t fatal, and compared to some lethal cousins of theirs in Mexico and the Middle East, the sting is fairly mild. However, as with any serious insect bite, it’s better to head to the hospital because some people suffer severe allergic reactions after being stung, and it’s better to get yourself checked out professionally.

          

And last but certainly not least, the smallest and one of the most irritating of all, the ant. There are simply far too many species of ants in Thailand for anyone to actually count. Some have powerful jaws and are full of attitude so will bite first and be frightened of you later. The smaller ones can have poison or allergens to inject into your skin, and these can get worse a couple of days after being bitten. The best defence against these critters is to make sure there is no food residue lying around, as their sense of smell is second to none.

          

It might sound like all doom and gloom but according to an expert on the island who specialises in ‘dangerous creatures’, there is nothing on Samui that is particularly dangerous to people, providing you get to the hospital in case of an allergic reaction. He has been bitten and stung by pretty much everything here and has lived to tell the tale, although he’s not denying it can hurt!

          

It’s probably a good idea to keep some antihistamines with you just in case one of these creatures decides to pay you a visit. But other than that, be sensible, relax, enjoy your holiday and order that next round of Mojitos.

          

 Colleen Setchell


 


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