God’s smallest creatures have slithered and buggled the earth since time began, and Jamaica has more than its fair share of things that leap on you as you walk past.
If you’re in a garden or rambling through dense undergrowth, don’t be tempted to lift rocks or poke about — and let anything hairy or venomous with more legs than you go about its wiggly business in peace.
Gladly [some of] the spiders and [most of] the snakes on the island are nothing to give you the willies about, and tales of things creeping into your bed when you are asleep to eat your face are greatly exaggerated. But let’s just see if some of these other bad guys can’t sneak behind your defence mechanisms a little...
Fearsome ‘centipedes’ of up to 30 cm long will happily gobble up birds, rodents, anything with a face. Potent venom is administered via two front ‘claws’, a bite from which will not improve your health. GJG Rating: Evil. Don’t ever stamp on one or it’ll coil round your foot and have you for lunch.
The second Jamaican national bird, they come out at dusk to irritate the pants off you, then buzz annoyingly around your ear when you are trying to sleep. Repellents are a must, burn a coil or spray some spray, and sleep under a net or near a cooling fan. GJG Rating: Evil. Do whatever it takes to get rid.
Despite an infallible work ethic and the common decency to form orderly queues, some are the bitey kind. Wilson reckons he saw red stripey ones on Priory Beach but it might’ve just been the rum. GJG Rating: Keep any leftover street food properly sealed or these mothers will appear in their legions.
The tell-tale crunch and wiggle of legs on the sole of your foot as you nip to the toilet in the dark... you’re in the company of the most reviled creatures on the planet outside of politics. GJG Rating: Evil. Nothing a few whacks with your sandal can’t sort.
There is always a lizard watching you. We love these little green flitting reptiles, and anything that dines on mosquitos is our friend. See males puff out their necks when some big bamboo summer lovin’ with lizard chicks is on the agenda. GJG Rating: Basilicine cuties.
These dark brown, yellow-banded horrors (nicknamed ‘Bumblebee’ millipedes) grow up to 100 mm in length and may release a “poison” that can burn your skin if they don’t like the look of you, so don’t forget to smile. GJG Rating: Just don’t upset one.
None of Jamaica’s native snakes are venomous. Even if they were, the population has significantly lessened over the years by farming methods and the mongoose. Some species are protected. GJG Rating: Still making our mind up.
Croaky and colourful, over two dozen species live on the island and are only harmful should you snack on them. GJG Rating: Their adorable gleeping adds an exotic ambience to evenings spent outside under the tropical stars.
Making a right chirpy racket at night with their froggy friends, this gentle creature can grow to more than 20 cm long and, with sticky-out legs and spiky antennae, can appear quite startling in the half-light. GJG Rating: Harmless, it says here.
Aka ‘No-See-Ums’, these cheeky little sand-dwelling bitey things (mini-crustaceans actually) spend most of their day in hiding but will come out to nibble and burrow their way into uncovered legs as the sun sets. GJG Rating: If you’ve been tonight’s lucky host, rub on some white rum to ease irritation.
Spider whisperers we are not, but most island arachnids are nothing to lose sleep over — though you can bet there’ll be some of those big whopper Banana Spiders just waiting to pounce should you hang around long enough in rainforest. Tarantulas are believed to be extinct on the island, and those Brown Recluse house-dwellers look gentle enough but… GJG Rating: We’re not waiting around to find out.
Scary looking, they’re on the prowl too but rarely seen, coming out to answer the call of the wild at dusk. Scorpions with a fatal sting are not native to Jamaica but, as with anything with sharp pinchers and a venomous barbed tail, allergic reactions are possible. GJG Rating: It’s maybe not a good idea to pick one up and cuddle it.