Puerto Rico is arguably one of the best places in the world to explore, with so many exciting adventures from zip lining through the forests to visiting Flamenco beach in Culebra. But there are few common bugs, creepy crawlies and more that you may encounter in PR so it is best to learn what they are and how to avoid them as best as you can.
The good thing about living and moving to Puerto Rico is there are no poisonous snakes. There are a few poisonous insects and some that are a nuisance, but you usually won’t encounter them.
What is the The MOST dangerous insect in Puerto Rico?
Mosquitoes – By far, the most dangerous insect in PR is the tiny mosquito. It is responsible for over 27,000 illnesses since 2014 and even deaths due to Chikungunya alone. Mosquitoes can also transmit dengue fever and the West Nile Virus, so it’s very important to protect yourself. These diseases are most common in heavily populated San Juan and surrounding areas. For more information and tips, read our article, Protecting Yourself from Mosquitoes.
Other insects in Puerto Rico
Flying Roaches – there are several species of roaches that have wings and in Puerto Rico you’re most likely to come across the flying types. These are called the American cockroach or Palmetto Bug. The best thing you can do to prevent them is to keep your home clean and access holes to your home closed. They generally are not common inside homes, but in wet weather or in search of food, they will come into your home. You should also buy a few products that will prevent them from inevitably cropping up. Apart from keeping your area clean, ensure you take the garbage out regularly because cockroaches generally feed on food scraps and rotten garbage. If you do have cockroach infestation, the best way to get rid of it is to locate the source, block entrances and in worse cases simply hire the services of a reputable pest control company.
Bed Bugs – Like most places in the U.S. and abroad, there are bed bugs in PR, but they are not something most people encounter. Your best bet to avoid bed bugs is to be aware of what to look for, especially when you are staying in hotels as they can be brought in at any time from travelers.
Ants – Puerto Rico is a tropical climate and has several different types of ant species, including carnivorous, wood-eating and sugar ants. Keeping your area ant free is not easy and unfortunately there is no magic portion that will get rid of them instantly. When you see them in your home, use a combination of cleaning, bait products and/or repellents to get rid of them. The best way to prevent ants is by keeping your foodstuffs well sealed (especially sugar), and eliminating exposed food, dirty dishes and spills.
The worst type of ant you will encounter is the fire ant. Their mounds can be found all over the island, usually in sandy/grassy areas. Be sure to look where you are standing to avoid being attacked by these painful pests.
Centipedes – There are several different types of centipede in Puerto Rico and many are harmless. The giant centipede, which grow to 12 inches, is more dangerous and can be poisonous with a painful bite. Luckily, it is also very rare and you will not find it hanging out in your living room as it prefers the forest floor.
Sand Fleas – Nearly invisible, sand fleas pack a painful, itchy bite and can cover your legs in a short amount of time without you knowing it. They are more active after a rain and in the early morning or late evening and can be found all over the island. Ask locals if they are a problem because they are more prevalent in some areas than others. Be sure to wear insect repellent to keep these critters from inflicting a painful bite.
Spiders – Puerto Rico, like most islands, has it’s share of spiders. The most dangerous you will find is the brown recluse, which is uncommon, but deadly. Other spiders include the very large banana spider, cave spiders, orb weavers and even tarantulas. Most likely, you will not find any of these spiders in your home as they prefer natural habitats.
Scorpions – Scorpions in PR are not poisonous, but they can deliver bites much like bee stings. Some areas have more scorpions than others (Vieques), and it is possible to find them hiding in dark corners in your home.
Reptiles and more
Iguanas – Iguanas are plentiful on the island and can be a big nuisance. They are vegetarian and will eat your plants and flowers, but they also pose a road hazard, sunning themselves on the warm pavement. Iguanas are messy too, leaving large amounts of excrement in their path.
Frogs — The coqui makes a bird-like chirp in the evening hours and is part of Puerto Rico’s charm. Many varieties exist on the island and this cute little frog is hardly a nuisance. Stay away from the large cane toad or bufo frog. This large toad has poisonous glands in it’s skin and can kill a dog if bitten.
Snakes – Puerto Rico only has four species of snakes and none of them are poisonous. The tiny Blind snakes are mostly found underground, the boa can reach up to two meters long and is found in more mountainous areas. Garden snakes are seen rarely and can be found in grass and woody regions. Finally, the Puerto Rican racer, which can reach 1 meter in length, is found all over the island.
Bats – There are 13 known bat species in PR and they are the only native mammals on the island and also on Bacardi Rum’s logo. While is is possible for a bat to contract rabies, they are harmless and actually extremely beneficial to the environment. Bats consume insects during twilight hours including mosquitoes. If you find a sickly or dead bat, it is best to avoid it and keep it away from your pets.
These are some of the common insects, bugs and other types of animals you may encounter in Puerto Rico. Before you NOPE out of here thinking PR is a bug infested island of terror, just realize that it is very rare to encounter most of the above on a regular basis and even if you do, they aren’t that scary. MANY people live just fine in PR and enjoy all that the island has to offer–including all the creepy crawlies 🙂 We hope this guide helps you on your travels!