Lizards Ants and Mosquitoes – Oh My!
For those of you that did not grow up in the tropics, get ready for an eye opener; lizards ants and mosquitoes are EVERYWHERE!
Insects and small reptiles are everywhere, but more importantly, they are lived WITH and part of our daily lives!
Everyone knows about the mosquitoes in the tropics, but what about the lizards? There are quite a few varieties in Thailand, many of which live with us in our homes and offices. Yes, IN our homes and offices! The two main ones are the Tokay Gecko (AKA the F-YOU lizard) and the ever present Jing Joke.
The Tokay Gecko is a larger lizard which are usually outside and almost never seen, but you WILL know they are there. The two names are derived from the sounds that they make. Most locals call them Tokay as that is what it sounds like to them. However, most foreigners swear there is a little guy outside saying “F You!” It’s actually quite funny seeing the response from first timers!
The more prevalent and ever present lizard is the Jing Joke or Chit Chat. A smaller lizard pale color reaching about 10 cm at full length. You will see these EVERYWHERE you go in Thailand. Usually scaling walls, staying close to the lights (heat source) everywhere from restaurants, bars, hotels, temples, kitchens, bedrooms, etc, etc.
The locals are happy to let these guys live and not simply because of their Buddhist upbringing. They do not consider them a pest, but rather a benefit as they eat small insects! Allowing these to stick around controls the amount of ants, mosquitoes, flies, roaches, etc. Free insect control! In fact, they are so ingrained in the culture that they have their own mythology or assigned “charm” Every so often they will grow with two tails. The local lore says that if you find one of these in your home, it means your going to have twins!
Mosquitoes, roaches and ants can also be found just about everywhere in Thailand, but with proper technique, can be controlled.
Mosquitoes are a fact of life here. In the cities (we’re in Chiang Mai) you generally don’t have to worry about mosquito-born diseases, but will still care about not getting bit and being itchy afterwards.
Tips and tricks about mosquitoes: Don’t wear dark colors, they attract mosquitoes. Wear long clothing, long sleeved shirts and full length pants(trousers). You can protect yourself without the use of chemicals. Don’t bother with natural deterrents as they are not effective. Citronella, lemongrass, Skin So Soft, etc etc WILL NOT be useful here in Thailand! They may keep mosquitoes away for a few minutes, but in the end you’re still being bit. Unfortunately, the only easily accessible solution is DEET. Use it or get stung.
Ants and Roaches
Living in Thailand requires a different level of cleanliness. Unlike the cooler/colder “Western” countries, you CAN NOT leave food out or leave crumbs on the table/floor. The ants will march in within the hour. You can easily judge how clean a place is by the presence of ants. Your hotel, guesthouse, apartment should not have any ants when you check in. If it does, it has not been cleaned properly. If there are ants when you leave/checkout, it means you have not been clean. Remember that you do not need to get rid of the ants, just the food that they are searching for. Once it’s been cleaned, the ants will leave on their own.
Roaches are similar to ants. If you keep the place clean, you probably won’t see any. Many modern buildings in Thailand are made of cement and do not have spaces in the walls for insects to live. That means the roaches are living outside, usually in sewers. It’s possible to see one roach travelling and searching for food, but if you see more its time to clean! One exception to this is when the mosquito controls sprays are done. People will walk the streets with industrial type foggers strapped to their backs and spray the sewer and dark areas to kill mosquito eggs and larvae. This also affects the roaches. That day, you will see roaches everywhere, but they will either die off or quickly return to their hiding places.
Remember, when in Thailand, lizards are your friends and insects are commonplace, but can be managed!