- Healthy living
- Babies and toddlers
- Emergency management
- Environmental health
- Food and physical activity
- Sexual health
- Stop the spread of disease
- Teeth and gums
Avoiding bug bites while travelling
There are insects out there that want your blood. If you’re travelling overseas, make sure they don’t make you sick as well.
While mosquitoes in New Zealand don’t transmit diseases, in other countries they can be dangerous. Along with parasites like ticks and tsetse flies, mosquitoes can make you very ill. Here’s some advice to help keep you safe while you’re travelling.
- Mosquitoes that carry malaria or Japanese encephalitis are more active in the evening and at night. If you’re travelling in an area that has these diseases, be especially vigilant at those times.
- Mosquitoes that carry dengue or yellow fever are more active in the daytime.
- Tsetse flies are large flies found in mid-continental Africa, particularly in vegetated areas. Their bite can cause sleeping sickness.
- Ticks flourish in warm, humid climates such as the Australian bush. They can carry many diseases.
How to avoid being bitten
- Use screens on doors and windows.
- Use insect sprays.
- Use mosquito coils.
- Use a mosquito net over your bed at night. You can spray this with pesticide if you wish.
- Turn on air conditioning if you have it – this is very effective at keeping mosquitoes out of a room.
- Wear a repellent cream or spray, preferably containing DEET (diethyltoluamide). (Repellents containing less than 35 percent DEET are recommended because higher concentrations are no more effective – they just work for longer – and in rare cases they can cause poisoning. Repellent should not be applied to wounds or irritated skin.)
- Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and hats. Clothing can be treated with repellent.
- Wear light-coloured clothing – ticks and other critters are more easily detected on a light background and tsetse flies are attracted to dark, contrasting colours.
- Use zip-up screens on tents.
- Avoid places where mosquitoes are most active, such as swampy areas.
Note that vitamin B doesn’t prevent mosquito bites.
Find out more from the Ministry
Exotic mosquitoes – Learn more about mosquitoes and the Unwanted Organisms Register.