January 13, 2008

Attacked by Christmas Bugs
Lima, Peru

They call them Bichos de Navidad (Christmas bugs) here in Lima, and they're everywhere inside our bedroom.

Tatiana and Aidric have been home from the clinic for only a matter of hours. The three of us just woke up from a brief, early-evening nap, when I noticed the pile of wings on Aidric's changing station. I looked up, and much to my horror, discovered that the Bangkok mood lighting that I'd strung up over the baby's corner of the room was writhing with dozens and dozens of insects.

I'm running around our living space frantically, trying to kill as many of them as I can without scattering the others to the far reaches of the room. I dare not move the light—instead, I'm grabbing wads of toilet paper and feverishly squashing their bodies. Tatiana's father just came in with a fly swatter, but seems to be doing more harm than good. We had to dismiss him.

I've encountered something like them before. When I was in Antigua, Guatemala, I dared not turn on any light in my room after a certain hour of night, least I bring dozens and dozens of these insects swarming out from the spaces between the wooden ceiling slats. I couldn't even allow my MP3 player to show in a darkened room, as the illumination of its display caused them to start flying into my bed and hair—drawn towards the light. These too lost their wings in the process of whatever it is that they're doing, before they started squirming about.

I'm assuming it's mating season for some variety of termite. They don't appear to be winged ants—the structure of their thorax isn't right.

What I do know is that they're attracted to any type of light, they bite, and they're very common in Lima around Christmas. Tatiana's sister says they have a serious problem with them at her work, as they bite workers legs under their desks.

This is making me very unhappy, because I've caught more than a few in Aidric's bed, and these things are just about the last thing I want biting my son, or crawling into his mouth.

I don't know what to do.

I can't spray them or the room with an aerosol insecticide. I can't locate where they're coming from—out of thin air, it seems. The windows and doors have been shut, but they continue to appear.

Do I turn all the lights on and spread them about? Do I turn one on in the corner of the room, away from the baby, near our bed? I can't keep the lights out, because we need to live and do things in this room. Even flashlights will attract and focus them into a small swarm.

Everything seems like a no-win situation…

Update

The lights are out in the room, and the bedroom door propped wide open. I've loaded as many additional lights as I can into the second-floor landing (that all this floor's bedrooms are clustered around) as the hallways outlets can accommodate.

The strategy is working. The landing is full of fluttering or fallen wings.

I don't think Tatiana's mother cares for it, but I told her quite plainly that I won't allow for infestation of the bedroom, and if this is what it takes, than she's going to have to accept the lights and bugs in the hallway every night until they're no longer a problem.

This is the worst Tatiana has ever seen of them. We've noticed one or two every few days before this point, but never like this. Oddly, our bedroom seems to be the only affected.

Ah, well, it looks like Tatiana is going to place a mosquito net across the opening to Aidric's bassinet.

…Such drama.

Update, January 14

I had a nightmare about these things last night. I snapped upright in the early dawn hours, yelling out for Tatiana to brush the biting insects off my back. Geez.

Comments:

Kurt

January 17th, 2008

ah those things………when i lived in ecuador, they were EVERYWHERE!

I speak fluent spanish, yet i never cared to learn their name….denial is indeed bliss!

Renee

January 27th, 2008

Hey kiddo, I am not sure if these bugs are still an issue or not but I just read some info. I read that if you keep a dryer sheet in your pocket it keeps mosquitos away. Not sure if this would apply to this type of bug, but thought I'd share the info just in case! Might put some in your room and see if that helps!

On another note, Congrats on Aidric! Love the name!~

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

January 27th, 2008

Hi Renee,

These things are very sensitive to light — it attracts them in swarms — and don't think the scent of a dryer sheet is going to keep them at bay (though that's a new one I hadn't heard about).

Last night we had another round with them, the biggest since the night I wrote this up. We had a small USB keyboard light illuminating the room ever so faintly, and when I turned on the room light because I saw a few fluttering wings, found the base of the bed covered with them (where the light was at, attached to a laptop on the floor).

Gross.

Kurt

January 27th, 2008

Have you asked the locals how they deal with them? I used to have a ourple light at my ranch when I lived there, it would attract mosquitoes and zap them. I know I saw those winged terrorists when I lived in Ecuador but they never seemed to be a problem. Its funny, I speak flawless spanish- my first language- and I don't know what their name is! Anyway, good luck, and keep up the good fight.

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

January 27th, 2008

I would kill to have something like this (bug zapper), though can't seem to find anything similar down in these parts.

People seem to just deal with them by smashing 'em or ignore them for the days (weeks) that they're around — they get annoyed but forget about it after the fact until it happens the next year

France

Holland

June 1st, 2011

That's not just logic. That's really sensible.

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