Dealing with Mosquitoes in Mexico: A Handy Guide from a Local

Dealing with mosquitoes in Mexico can be a bit of a nightmare and if you are considering traveling here for the first time or moving here, you might be curious about what the mosquito situation is like, what diseases the mosquitoes here carry and how you can protect yourself from bites. 

You’re in good hands because I live in a humid, tropical part of Mexico (in the city of Merida in the Yucatan) and have plenty of experience in battling with these vampiric pests. 

In this post, we will look at everything you need to know before you travel here to help you try and minimize the number of bites you experience during your trip. 

Mosquitoes in Mexico 

Mosquitoes are prevalent across Mexico. They are definitely more of an issue in some parts of the country compared to others (especially in the tropics and the southeastern states) and the “worst” mosquito season runs between April and November during the rainy season. 

In the Yucatan, and hot, sticky sub-tropical areas like Puerto Vallarta and coastal Jalisco, mosquitoes are an incessant nightmare all year round. Even during the winter months when it rains less and it’s not quite so humid, I am often eaten alive in the Yucatan.

I can run to the Oxxo convenience store, come home and find I have gotten six new bites in a 20 minute period. They are so stealthy that you often don’t even notice that you have been bitten until you are walking and see blood dripping down your leg. (Pardon the visuals!) 

When I first arrived, it was so bad, to the extent that there weretimes when my arms and legs were basically been a dot-to-dot of bites and scars! 

In cities at higher altitudes or with cooler climates such as Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico City and Gunajuato City, the mosquito situation eases up a bit from October onwards, but they are definitely a bother in the summer months. 

Mosquito born viruses in Mexico

Unfortunately, mosquitoes in Mexico are known to carry a number of different viruses and diseases. Dengue fever, the Zika virus, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever have been detected here as has malaria, to a lesser extent. 

Many sources claim that the risk of contracting a serious illness or disease in Mexico are very slim. And if I use myself as a test puppet example, I am sure that there is plenty of truth in that as I have fallen victim to an obscene amount of bites over the last couple of years and I have (*knocks on wood*) never fallen sick. 

Dengue Fever can cause flu-like symptoms (headache, joint pain, muscle pain, nausea, conjestion) and while many people recover from it, if you get it a second or third time, you will become more sick with each reinfection. Health authorities recorded 59,918 cases of dengue fever in Mexico in 2022 and 36,742 cases in 2021 which, while increasing, is a very small % given the population of Mexico and the tens of millions of tourists that visit the country each year. 

If you are pregnant or are trying to conceive, you should take additional precautions against mosquitoes in Mexico because of the complications that can come with zika virus.   

Precautions to take against mosquitoes in Mexico

The levels of precautions that you need to take against mosquitoes in Mexico depend on when and where you are traveling and to an extent, your level of susceptibility towards bites. 

There is definitely some truth in mosquitoes being more drawn to some types of people more than others based on their body odor, sweat, diet, blood type, etc. I seem to be among the demographic of people that is irresistible to them since there have been times where I have woken up with a dozen bites and my Mexican partner sleeping beside me has had a grand total of 0. 

If you find that you are particularly susceptible, I would highly recommend purchasing some plug-in mosquito repellants and carrying them with you, especially if you are going to be spending a relative amont of time in areas like the Yucatan, Chiapas state, or tropical coastal areas. For a regular itinerary, you should at least pack repellant sprays and lotions in your case. 

Mosquito plug-in repellants 

I cannot speak highly enough about mosquito repellant plug-ins and I swear by them. I was really struggling with bites when I first moved to the Yucatan to such an insane degree, that when I finally found something that worked (the plug-ins), it felt like some kind of magic/voodoo. 

There are different types you can get – the liquid repellant that lasts 30 nights, or the repellant “strips” which need to be changed every 24 hours. In my experience, both work very well but I prefer the liquid repellant purely because I don’t have to change them every day. (Otherwise I forget then berate myself when I wake up with 5 more bites). 

You can find different types/brands of liquid and strip plug-in repellants online on places like Amazon, or in supermarkets like Walmart, Bodega Aurrera, etc. I usually pick them up from Walmart during my grocery shop. 

If I am being honest, they are a little pricy but worth it. One plug in is approximately 130MXN pesos (circa $7.54 USD) and I buy them for every room in my house. 

They seem to last a little less than the advertised 30 days but I can enjoy a virtually bite-free existence during that time. I immediately know when its time to change the refills when I start getting bitten again! 

Citronella candles and incense 

People in Mexico are big on using citronella candles and oil to repel mosquitoes but their usefulness is debatable. Maybe you can give them a try in conjunction with the plug-ins or the sprays but they do not really seem very effective alone. 

I have also tried the coils which generally just give out a horrible, nauseating smell, don’t burn all that well, and are simply not as effective as the plug-ins. If you prefer similar “natural” ways to repel mosquitoes, some people claim that certain oils like lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint help to repel them too. 

If you decide to buy a house in Mexico or move here longer term, planting certain plants like mint, lemongrass and sage may deter mosquitoes. 

Mosquito sprays and repellant creams 

Mosquito repellant sprays and creams remain one of the most effective ways to deter bites when you are out and about sightseeing, etc. Many of these products contain active ingredients such as DEET or picaridin which can have a strong and somewhat offensive chemical smell but they are generally pretty effective in keeping the bugs at bay. 

(You can also browse for other more natural options). 

Long-sleeved clothing 

The mosquitoes in some parts of the country are so savage and incessant that they can gnash their way through long sleeves and layers of fabric. (No, really!) 

Since it is so hot in most vacation areas of Mexico a lot of the time, it really isn’t practical to recommend long pants or long sleeves since you will probably be sweltering. However, if you go out in the evenings to bars/restaurants where you are likely to be sitting next to bodies of water, long sleeves can help ward away the mosquitoes. 

(Mosquitoes love bodies of water and often lay their eggs on still water like swimming pools, etc).  

Mosquito nets 

You will find that there are mosquito nets on the windows in a lot of hotels and rentals in tropical parts of Mexico. (I have them on all of the windows on my house). 

While they are intended to stop mosquitoes getting in, they are not completely foolproof, since I always find these blood-sucking demons flying around my living room, living rent-free in my bathrooms, etc. So while nets on windows and around beds can be useful, don’t depend on this doing the trick entirely. 

I would still strongly recommend buying a plug-in or spraying yourself with a repellant spray. 

Fumigation trucks 

Fumigation trucks will do a circuit around most Mexican cities during the summer months and will spray insecticide into the streets to repel mosquitoes and other pests. (Pro tip: be very careful when walking along the street if you have seen one of these trucks approaching as I have definitely been fumigated in the face before!) 

Again, unfortunately, this doesnt prevent mosquitoes completely (or anywhere near). Maybe it lessens the amount of mosquitoes in the area from one billion to half a billion?   

UV lamps 

UV (ultraviolet) lamps can kill mosquitoes and other flies/pests in a certain room or area. However, they dont actually repel them, they just kill them when they come too close so this isn’t an effective repellant on its own and is best used in conjunction with other methods. (Have I hyped up the plug-ins enough yet?) 

Treating mosquito bites in Mexico 

When drawing up your packing list for Mexico, make sure that you include a soothing cream for mosquito bites as well as some anti-histamines for your medical kit. If you find yourself with a lot of bites, it can make you feel quite run down and ill or at the very least, it will make you extremely itchy and uncomfortable. 

Washing the bite with warm water and soap can often give some quick respite but since the itching/irritation is likely to flare up again, you should also apply a topical cream or take over-the-counter anti-histamines.

Anti-histamines and after bites 

You can buy Benadryl and other anti-histamines like loratadina/claritin over the counter in pharmacies and supermarkets in Mexico. Personally, I find that they do a lot more to stop the itching faster than having to keep applying tons of topical cream that just sweats away in the heat. 

Antihistamines in Spanish are “antihistamínicos”. So when you approach the pharmacist, you can say “yo quiero antihistamínicos por favor”. (Or show them a photo of the packaging on your phone). 

If you prefer a topical after-bite cream, andotol is a popular and effective option sold locally. If you should be so unfortunate enough to fall ill in Mexico and you suspect it is something to do with a mosquito bite, see a doctor. 

You will see many walk in clinics close to “Farmacia Similares” stores and you can visit a doctor for as little as $2.50. 

Final thoughts on dealing with mosquitoes in Mexico

Mosquitoes in Mexico are more of a nuisance than anything else, but as long as you are aware of the situation and take precautions, you can minimize bites and irritation. Some mosquito-borne diseases do exist in Mexico but the chances of you falling sick are still very slim. 

This isnt a country where you have to worry about taking malaria meds or the probability of contracting something are high. Invest in repellant measures but try and concentrate your energy on enjoying your time in Mexico. 

Do you have any further questions? As I mentioned, I have been living in Merida for several years now. 

I am always happy to help out where I can so if you need something, please feel free to connect with me via email/social media or drop me a comment below. 

Safe travels and enjoy your time in Mexico! Melissa xo 

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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