The one downside to holidaying on a sunny tropical island like Jamaica are mosquitoes. To date Jamaica is thankfully not listed by the World Health Organisation as having had an outbreak of Zika so no travel regulations are in place, but here are our local tips to counter the pesky day and night biting mosquitos that live on the island.
Stay at a Hotel Who Plant Intelligently
We do all we can at Mockingbird Hill to control mosquitoes by intelligent planting close to rooms. Neem Trees, Garlic, French Thyme, Rosemary and Marigolds all repel our least favourite insect. Our gardens are bio-dynamic which means that we do not use insecticides in turn encouraging natural predators such as dragonflies, lizards, spiders, water striders, frogs and snails that eat the mosquitoes and their larvae.
How to Sleep
Whilst in Jamaica we recommend that you sleep under a mosquito net, keep your hotel room fans on as mosquitoes hate draughts and air movement and use an electric plugin repellent that will be provided by all good hotels that works against ‘local’ mosquitoes.
In & Out the Shower
You can reduce your personal interest to mosquitos by showering frequently and not using highly perfumed soaps, shampoos and body lotions and alternately using those that contain essential oils that naturally repel mosquitoes such as Lemongrass, Citronella, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Vetivier or Pimento (All Spice).
The Order of Repellant and Suntan Cream
ALWAYS apply mosquito repellant before layering on sun tan lotion. Both should be applied one hour before going out. Top up your mosquito repellant each time that you apply your suntan cream as sweat diminishes the effectiveness of both and straight after you have been swimming.
We suggest using Picaridin which has an edge over DEET in that it discourages mosquitoes from landing on you in the first place. If you do want to go down DEET route, and hikers up in the Blue Mountains may feel happier spraying this on as it is what many are used to, we recommend using one that contains 20% DEET.
At Hotel Mockingbird Hill we supply a local insect repellent that contains a base of OLE/PMD, the oil extracted from the lemon scented gum eucalyptus plant blended with Lemongrass, Citronella. Lavender, Vetivier and Pimento essential oils. In local tests it proved not only better smelling but was long lasting and effective as imported products containing DEET.
What to Wear
Wherever possible, wear light coloured long sleeved shirts, baggy trousers and sock and shoes to minimize exposed skin and sensitive bite spots like ankles and arms. Mosquitoes long for visitors to Jamaica to pack their spandex, but leave it at home as there is nothing easier for a mosquito to bite through!
Consider using one of the mosquito repellent bracelets which carry essential oils to help repel mosquitos when combined with your repellent spray.
Across Jamaica most of the larger restaurants will use an electric plugin to repel unwanted mosquitoes, for your own personal comfort do check before you sit down that the restaurant has something in place and consider an alternative if you suffer a bad reaction to mosquito bites.
The standard practice of always visiting a doctor if you feel ill on your return from any country applies when back from a holiday to Jamaica. Chikungunya Fever can be carried by mosquitoes on the island and although serious complications are uncommon and the illness should only take a few days to resolve it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Local GP, Dr Michael Abrahams rap about how Jamaica can continue to avoid the Zika virus.