Insects in Cyprus

For visitors, there is little need for concern about dangerous Cyprus insects. Mosquitoes can be a nuisance in the early evening, during spring and autumn, but do not cause malaria. There are also some small biting spiders, although they are not dangerous. If you are allergic or suffer an itchy bite, pharmacies stock a variety of remedies.

Listed are some of the less pleasant forms of insect life:

Ants – Black ants are harmless outdoors. However they can appear from the tiniest cracks if there is anything edible around. I  spray my kitchen cupboards with ‘Biokill’ in the spring, and keep food in airtight containers. Even so, ants will discover a few breadcrumbs on the counter top. If this happens, wipe them away and re-spray any possible entrances.

Bedbugs – these are unlikely if you have bought new mattresses, or are staying in a clean hotel or apartment. Unfortunately they are sometimes found in older, less well-maintained homes or hotels. If you get several bites in the night, it’s worth changing your bedding. Then thoroughly vacuum the mattress and bed-frame. Mop the floor underneath, and spray with insecticide. Wash bedding at 60C or more.

Cockroaches – these live mainly in the septic tanks and garden sheds in Cyprus. They also live in other dark, damp places, and appear in houses during the summer months. Roaches can be quite large – up to 6cm or more in length. They canl fly in windows or crawl up bathroom pipes. Like ants, they are attracted to anything edible in the kitchen, including grease on the floors. Regular mopping, including a few drops of tea-tree oil in the water, can reduce them. But almost everyone who lives in Cyprus will find a few cockroaches each summer. We keep Biokill handy to spray them, then trap them under large yogurt pots. Stamping on them is not recommended since it can lead to roach eggs scattering widely.

Roaches are most active during the early evenings. So we try to make sure we have closed all windows and doors before dusk. We leave a light on if there is an open window, since they do not tend to crawl towards lighted rooms. However the ones that fly are at the ends of their lives. They may well fly into an open window, even in a lighted room.

Fleas – these are common on the feral cats which roam freely around restaurants and beaches. Fleas rarely bite humans, but if they do the itch is extreme. It is best to treat it with tea-tree oil or aloe vera. If you keep a cat or dog make sure you comb them regularly. Spray furniture with diluted tea-tree oil, Bio-kill, or any other spray that will not harm the animals.. Do NOT use tea-tree oil on pets directly as it is poisonous to them.

Mosquitoes – malaria was eliminated from Cyprus in the 1950s. But mosquitoes still breed in puddles and streams, and are most active in the spring and autumn. If they are a problem at night, ensure that you close all windows or use nets. You can buy plug-in devices at supermarkets or pharmacies which take either a liquid or pad containing insecticide. These are effective, and theoretically harmless to humans or pets. But we find the scent overpowering and prefer not to sleep with them on. Using for half an hour or so before going to bed can be a good compromise.

Moths – these insects, harmless to humans flutter around at dusk and after dark. They fly towards light. The problem with moths is that their larvae can destroy clothing or even the felts of pianos. To guard against them, the easiest method is to use protective lavender-scented sachets. You can buy these at supermarkets or pharmacies. Remember to change them every three or four months.

More annoying still are food moths (also known as Indian meal moths). They find their way into accessible bags of flour, seeds, rice, and other produce. Occasionally something from the supermarket may be infested already. But this is rare in the larger supermarkets where turnover of stock is good. We keep only a small amount of grains etc in our cupboards, placing bags in airtight containers immediately. We put any extra bags of flour, oats, etc, in the freezer until needed. This has the added advantage of destroying any eggs or larvae that might already be present.

Spiders – not technically insects, of course. Some spiders are harmless and will catch mosquitoes and other bugs in their webs. Unfortunately, not all Cyprus spiders are harmless. Common in older homes are small brown spiders which jump, and which can cause very itchy bites that last two or three days. Creams from pharmacies or tea-tree oil can soothe them.

There have been occasional reports of black widow spiders in fields, and even tarantulas lurking in cluttered garages. While they tend to run away rather than attack unprovoked, they can be dangerous if you touch them accidentally. Seek medical care immediately if bitten.

You can find further information on some of these pests at the following sites:

Mosquitoes
Moths
Indian meal moths
Cyprus spiders (large photos – not for the squeamish!)

If you are interested in more attractive insect life, you might like to visit the Cyprus butterfly site.