There are many joys of living in Yucatán that we should celebrate on a daily basis, but let’s not pretend the bug-life is up there on anyone’s list of reasons to move here. No one wakes up and thinks, “oh, hey, I need more cockroaches, ants, and spiders in my day,” but if you’re going to have a successful and harmonious existence in Yucatán, acceptance and a few new habits are key.
No more finishing a delicious meal and trying to ignore the dishes for you, I’m afraid! The cleaner you keep everything, the fewer ants you’ll have. Standard tips are: do your dishes right away, don’t leave food open, and use airtight containers for storage. I actually find that ants never manage to get onto my stovetop, so if I bake or cook, I can leave things to cool there without worrying (I use a cover to prevent flies though). I keep most of my pantry items in closed containers to prevent ants and other bugs from gobbling up my supplies. Packages of flour and pasta are additionally wrapped in bags to prevent weevil damage.
Truthfully, even with all this hard work, you may still find ants. The teeny tiny ones that like electrical wires and sockets are particularly obnoxious. But remember, there are reputedly more ants in the city of Mérida than there are people in the world, so it’s probably easiest not to worry too much about these guys. Instead, why not take a leaf out of my book and think of them as little helpers who clear up under the table when people drop food?
Like ants, mosquitos are with us year round, but they get worse during the rainy season. If you live near standing water or unused lots, you may find you suffer with mosquitos. The local government regularly sprays particularly bad areas. Most homes have screens on windows and doors. Scorpions also become more common during the rainy season.
I doubt anyone can manage to live in this climate without coming face to face with cockroaches. Like ants, the cockroaches are attracted by crumbs on the floor and open food packets. They tend to come out even more as the temperature escalates; and enjoy cardboard boxes and papers, meaning my daughter’s propensity for hoarding all the boxes is a constant issue in my house. She’s the kid who went through a phase of finding dead cockroaches, painting them pink and storing them in a ziplock bag so, my house is, um, fun. Handily my husband’s fantastic DIY skills have meant that he found where they were entering the house and simply covered those drains with sieves and a brick on top. Voila, (almost) no more roaches.
If you’re keeping your house clean but still see the odd roach or ant, don’t sweat it, you’re doing enough sweating anyway without letting this get to you. Remember, the spiders and geckos are actually eating the other bugs for you, so be sure to leave them well alone. Scorpions have a bad reputation, but the local dudes look worse than they are, their sting is comparable to a wasp’s and they have no desire to interact with humans.
Really, if you haven’t posted a photo of a random bug on social media and asked what it is, have you really even lived in Yucatán?
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger, born in the UK. Cassie has a BA from Oxford University and an MA from SOAS, University of London. She lives in Mérida and loves exploring Yucatán with her family.
Photography by Emiko Peterson-Yoon (Unsplash) and Alexandre Debiève (Unsplash) for its use in Yucatán Today.
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