The last thing you want while you’re on vacation is to be all itchy from mosquitoes bites, especially if you’re in a paradisiac place like Rio de Janeiro. Not only are mosquitoes a bit of a pain in the behind regarding those nasty stings, but they can also pretty much ruin a good night’s sleep if you’re not prepared for them.
Yes, there are mosquitoes in Rio de Janeiro, notably during the summertime. Since Rio’s summer cycle is very intense and features heavy rainstorms throughout its three months period, it paints the perfect scenario for an increase of mosquitoes in the area.
So if you’re planning a trip to Rio de Janeiro and feel uneasy about what particular harm this little buzzer can cause, I’m going to give a brief rundown on everything you need to know about how to protect yourself.
What kinds of mosquitoes are there in Rio de Janeiro? Are they dangerous?
There are two main species of mosquitoes, which can be found in Rio, the Aedes aegypti, and the Culex type.
While the first one has daytime habits and is feared for the variety of diseases it can carry, the Culex is very much a night creature, being mainly responsible for that unpleasant buzz in our ears while we sleep.
The Aedes aegypti is the carrier for diseases such as Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya in urban areas, so watch out especially for those. They are mostly active during the day, but since it is an opportunistic insect, it may sting during the night if it has the chance to.
It can be identified by its darker shade and white stripes along its body and legs. As of today, possible cases of dengue alone have committed over 90 thousand Brazilians this year alone, with 14 confirmed deaths.
However, even though these numbers look scary, Brazil is a very populous country. In the four Southern states (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Espírito Santo, and Minas Gerais), there are only 46,56 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants, which makes it unlikely that you would contract dengue if you take the appropriate precautions.
If you ever had a buzzing mosquito ruining your beauty rest, best count it was most likely a Culex.
While they are less common to carry any particular diseases like the Aedes aegypti, and therefore, are less harmful, this species can be pretty annoying for their relentless attempts to bite, especially to the ones with sensitive skin.
The Culex mosquitoes have a lighter shade of brown in comparison to the other one, as it doesn’t have any white details on their bodies.
What can I do to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes while in Rio de Janeiro?
Since Rio de Janeiro has warm, humid weather throughout most of the year, it’s necessary to be careful and plan to prevent getting bitten. So, here are a few solutions that are commonly used by local citizens in Rio de Janeiro:
There are tons of options for mosquito repellents, from the ones you can apply directly to your skin from manual and electronic spray devices.
So if you are a natural mosquito target (as some people’s skin do attract these insects more than others), it might be a good idea to consider both options, as most repellents need to be re-applied in every two hours as well.
Especially effective against the Aedes aegypti kind, the use of insecticide may be a good choice to keep the mosquitoes away.
You can spray it on your room daily or use the electrically charged ones for sporadic timed sprays to have a more lasting or permanent solution.
Natural repellents are more effective on the Culex mosquitoes, so, therefore, they are excellent options to consider having around, especially at night when you go to sleep.
Keep in mind they do not offer guaranteed protection on their own, being mostly used as complementary safety measures:
- Plants & Flowers – Green mint, Rosemary, Geraniums, and Marigolds exhale an unpleasant scent to mosquitoes, being able to keep them away.
- Vinegar & detergent – putting a few drops of detergent on a glass jar with vinegar may cause mosquitoes to drown in it, as they are attracted to the scent.
- Citronella candles – mosquitoes are also repelled by this scent, making this a good choice for closed spaces.
- Lemon & Clove – Cutting a lemon in half and sticking a couple of cloves in it may also keep these insects away as they dislike the smell.
Fans & Protective Clothing
Having a fan on while sleeping is a common practice amongst Brazilians as the gusts of wind pushes the mosquitoes away while still keeping you fresh.
Air conditioners are also used against them, as they tend to dislike low temperatures.
Wearing clothes that cover most of your body can also be a nice way of preventing bites, as depending on the material, they can serve as a physical shield against mosquitoes.
As this is especially difficult to do during summer for obvious reasons (too hot!), Cariocas (Rio de Janeiro locals) lean on other measures to keep them safe.
Blocking your doors and Windows with protective nets against mosquitoes has also been a longtime method for keeping them outside the house, as most bites happen while indoors.
Electric Fly Swatter
Widely used in Brazilian households, these rackets are chargeable and can zap the mosquitos into oblivion. These are especially useful in areas with mosquito swarms, as it can take many of them out with a single swing.
What do I do if I get bitten by a mosquito in Rio de Janeiro?
If you get bitten by a mosquito (or any other insect for that matter), there are a few things you can do to alleviate the itch:
- Wash the affected region with water and soap
- Put some ice to relieve the itch
- Avoid scratching at all costs
- Apply some moisturizing cream or vaseline to maintain the relief
If you get bitten by an Aedes aegypti mosquito, you’ll most likely begin to feel symptoms of the disease it may carry, and the main ones are:
- Red spots throughout the body
- Pain in the joints
Why are mosquitoes more frequent during Summer? Will they attack me at the beach?
Rio’s summer temperatures can get pretty damn hot, as you might know, which makes for more humidity in the air and results in heavy rain.
Floods are very common in some parts of the city, and mosquitoes love to lay their eggs on still water from gutters, containers, or open sewage, establishing the perfect scenario for an increase of them.
Mosquitoes are also very attracted to high body temperature and sweating; another reason why they tend to show up more during the Summer.
Aside from that, their surge during this time of the year can also be explained by the fact that higher temperatures tend to make us breathe more often, and the CO2 we exhale is very enticing to them.
Mosquitoes do show up at the beach sometimes, especially if the beach has any nearby vegetation. So if you’re afraid these little bugs can ruin your fun at the beach, you can opt to buy repellent sunscreen, as it will keep you two times protected.
As you can see, although mosquitoes are pretty frequent in Rio, there are ways to avoid them if you don’t want them to ruin your trip. So make sure you pick the best option for protection and have fun while keeping yourself safe!
For more information on Rio de Janeiro, in case you are planning a trip there, check our other posts: