Mosquitoes in Central America

Dengue fever vector, mosquito biting hand.
••• Joao Paulo Burini / Getty Images

Are there mosquitoes in Central America? Undoubtedly. The only thing more annoying than catching a mosquito in the act of bloodsucking is the tinny buzz of one in your bedroom, lurking unseen, just waiting until you close your eyes. And in Central America, mosquitoes seem to be everywhere. It’s a rare visitor who leaves without a host of itchy, red mosquito bites.

Mosquitos and Disease

To make matters worse, Central American mosquitoes are potential carriers of several debilitating diseases, among them malaria, yellow fever (only in Panama), and Dengue fever.

In Central America, malaria is the greatest risk.The disease is found in many urban areas and does not just stick to rural regions. A comprehensive list is provided by the American Center for Disease Control, breaking down at-risk areas country by country. If you’re traveling to one of these areas, make sure to ask your doctor to prescribe an antimalarial drug like chloroquine. The CDC does not recommend purchasing these drugs overseas, although they are available over the counter at many pharmacies.

How to Keep Mosquitos Away

Of course, it’s best to prevent Central America's mosquitoes from biting in the first place. DEET (no higher than 50%), a highly potent insect repellent available in sports, travel, and drugstores, is a traveler’s best defense. Permethrin is an insecticide you can spray on clothes and mosquito netting, effective in repelling and killing mosquitoes and other insects. Before using either of these or any other repellent, read the included instructions carefully.

The majority of Central America’s vector (disease-carrying) mosquitoes are most active at twilight, which is blessedly a cooler time to venture out in Permethrin-treated long sleeves and pants.