FAQ #1 – What about BUGS in Ecuador?

Ecuador is located in the tropics of South America and is home to the western side of the Amazon Rainforest so you may be concerned about the types and volume of bugs in Ecuador, especially in the popular expat city of Cuenca or in popular expat towns along the coast of Ecuador.

Hopefully, we’ll set your mind at ease with our answer to this frequently asked question: What about BUGS in Ecuador?

Bugs in Cuenca Ecuador

We’re surprised at the lack of bugs in Cuenca Ecuador. Since Ecuador is located on the Equator, we expected more flying insects, especially mosquitos, but there really aren’t very many bugs. This is mainly due to the high altitude, thin air and cooler temperatures.

The bugs that we saw when we lived there were flies, ututos, beetles and tarantulas (not technically a bug, but certainly a creepy-crawly).

Ututos in Cuenca Ecuador

Ututos Cuenca Ecuador

These ututos welcomed us to Cuenca shortly after we arrived. We woke up to find an orgy of them in our apartment. We had the cleaning lady remove them after she told us they’re harmless. They can spray you with a stinky substance, though, so be careful. They generally only emerge during October and November.

Beetles in Biblián Ecuador

Beetles Ecuador

These giant flying beetles are common in the mountain areas. These were at the church in Biblián, but we saw them in Cuenca, too. They’re attracted to bright lights.

House Tarantula in Cuenca Ecuador

Tarantula Cuenca Ecuador

During the 2+ years we lived in Cuenca, we escorted 3 tarantulas out of the house. Each was about 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm) in diameter. They crawled in under the kitchen door, which had about a 1 inch gap at the bottom. I used the broom to encourage them to leave, and they were happy to oblige.

These tarantulas are an endangered species so it’s illegal to kill them and you’re supposed to call animal control if you spot one, but they’re usually in a big hurry to leave once they see you so we didn’t bother calling the authorities. They’re very docile and not likely to bite you.

Bugs and More in Olón Ecuador

Due to the sea level elevation, warmer temperatures and nearby jungle, we see a lot more bugs in Olón than we did in Cuenca. We see a lot of flies, fruit flies, bees, moths

There are more mosquitos, but still not as many as we expected, especially compared to eastern Kansas or Texas in the summer where I grew up. After a big rain, we see more of them, but we’re in the middle of a bad drought right now so we haven’t seen many mosquitos.

We’ve heard there are small scorpions and snakes in the jungle east of Olón, but we haven’t seen any. We’ve only seen a variety of lizards, Iguanas and salamanders (often confused with geckos) that make a high pitched chirping sound at night.

Sand Fleas in Olón Ecuador

The biggest bug menace in Olón and all along the coast is actually too small to see. We called them chiggers when I was a kid, but they’re also called sand fleas or no-see-ums. They attack en masse and leave nasty welts on your feet and legs if you forget the bug repellant before walking on the beach. After a day or two, the welts turn into oozing blisters and they itch like crazy!

Moral of the story: DON’T FORGET THE BUT REPELLANT WHEN YOU WALK ON THE BEACH!!!

Wasps in Olón Ecuador

Tarantula Hawk

We see a lot of small bees and wasps similar to those found in the US, but this Tarantula Hawk that I caught on film in our Things That Shocked Us About Ecuador video may be the most terrifying bug I’ve ever heard or seen! It sounded like a Huey coming in for a landing!

While this wasp is relatively docile and tends to focus its energy on tarantulas, it still has one of the most potent and painful stings of all insects in the animal kingdom. If you see one, our advice is to turn the other cheek and walk away calmly but quickly.

Spiders in Olón Ecuador

Tarantula Dos Mangas Ecuador

We spotted this tarantula on our hike up the Dos Mangas jungle trail. You can see this juvenile spider in action in our Howler Monkey video. We saw a full grown tarantula in a deep hole on one of our hikes east of Olón. It appeared to be about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter.

Orb Weaver Olon Ecuador

We have a colony of Orb Weaver Garden spiders in our backyard, but they’re harmless and actually helpful since they keep the flying bugs to a minimum.

Moths in Olón Ecuador

Moth Olon Ecuador

This giant moth appeared outside our kitchen window one evening and hung out for a while before flying off. We see lots of small moths and beautiful butterflies, and a big one like this on occasion.

Bugs in the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador

We haven’t been to the Amazon Rainforest on the eastern side of Ecuador yet. Once we visit there, we’ll share some photos of the bugs we spot. The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most diverse areas in the world with more bugs than you can imagine.

If you’re worried about reliving the opening scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, you might want to stick to the mountains or coast of Ecuador.


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