As every visitor to the island asks, “What sort of wigglesome crawly things might ruin my holiday?”
God’s smallest creatures have slithered and buggled the earth since time began, and Jamaica has more than its fair share of things that leap on you as you walk past.
If you find yourself rambling through dense undergrowth or snooping about in someone’s garden, don’t be tempted to lift rocks or poke about — and let anything venomous-looking go about its wiggly business in peace.
Gladly [some of] the spiders and [most of] the snakes on the island are nothing to give you the willies about, and tales of things creeping into your bed when you are asleep to eat your face are greatly exaggerated. But let’s just see if some of these other bad guys on our list can’t sneak behind your defence mechanisms a little...
Fearsome ‘centipedes’ of up to 30 cm long will happily gobble up birds, rodents, anything with a face. Potent venom is administered via two big nasty front ‘claws’, a bite from which will not improve your health. Don’t ever stamp on one or it’ll coil round your foot and have you for lunch.
The second Jamaican national bird, they come out at dusk to irritate the pants off you, then buzz annoyingly around your ear when you are trying to sleep. Evil. Do whatever it takes — repellents are a must, burn a coil or spray some spray, and sleep under a net or near a fan. Or buy yourself a lizard.
Despite an infallible work ethic and the common decency to form orderly queues, some ants are the bitey kind. Wilson reckons he saw some red stripey ones on the sand at Priory Beach but it might’ve just been the rum. Keep any leftover street food properly sealed or these mothers will appear in their legions.
The tell-tale crunch and wiggle of legs on the sole of your foot as you nip to the toilet in the dark... you’re in the company of the most reviled creatures on the planet outside of politics. Evil but nothing a few whacks with your sandal can’t sort.
There is always a lizard watching you. We love these little green flitting reptiles, and anything that dines on mosquitos is our friend. Watch the males puff out their necks when some big bamboo summer lovin’ with lizard chicks is on the agenda. Basilicine cuties.
These dark brown, yellow-banded horrors (nicknamed ‘Bumblebee’ millipedes) grow up to 100 mm in length and may release a ‘poison’ that shoots out and burns your skin if they don’t like the look of you, so don’t forget to smile.
None of Jamaica’s native snakes are venomous. Even if they were, the population has significantly lessened over the years by farming methods and the mongoose. Some species are protected. Still making our minds up about these slitherers.
Croaky and colourful, over two dozen species live on the island and are only harmful should you snack on them. Their adorable high-pitched gleeping adds an exotic ambience to outdoor romantic evenings under the tropical stars.
Making a right chirpy racket at night with their froggy friends, these gentle creatures can grow to more than 20 cm long and, with sticky-out legs, antennae and other spiky protrudences, can appear quite startling in the half-light.
Spider whisperers we are not, but most island arachnids are nothing to lose sleep over — though you can bet there’ll be some of those big whopper Banana Spiders just waiting to pounce should you hang around in rainforest. Tarantulas are now believed to be extinct on the island, and those Brown Recluse house-dwellers look gentle enough... but we’re not waiting around to find out.
Aka ‘No-See-Ums’, these cheeky little sand-dwelling bitey things (mini-crustaceans actually) spend most of their day in hiding but will come out to nibble and burrow their way into uncovered legs as the sun sets. If you’ve been tonight’s lucky host, rub on some white rum on the affected area to ease irritation.