Insects are more of an irritation than a serious problem, but on the coast, in the jungle and to a lesser extent in the mountains, the common fly is a definite pest. Although it can carry typhoid, there is little one can do; you might spend mealtimes successfully fighting flies from your plate but even in expensive restaurants it’s difficult to regulate hygiene in the kitchens. A more obvious problem is the mosquito , which in some parts of the lowland jungle carries malaria. Repellents are of limited value – it’s better to cover your arms, legs and feet with a good layer of clothing. Mosquitoes tend to emerge after dark, but the daytime holds even worse biting insects in the jungle regions, among them the Manta Blanca (or white blanket), so called because they swarm as a blanket of tiny flying insects. They don’t hurt when they bite but itch like crazy for a few days after. Antihistamine creams or tablets can reduce the sting or itchiness of most insect bites, but try not to scratch them, and if it gets unbearable go to the nearest farmacia for advice. To keep hotel rooms relatively clear, buy some of the spirals of incense-like pyrethrin , available cheaply everywhere.

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