When we first moved to Bali, Indonesia, I was amazed at how many Bali insects and animals we came into common contact with on a regular basis. I had to quickly learn not to be all girl-like in my reaction to the bugs in Bali. Most of them, you just get used to. After living in Bali for 18 months, though, I maybe became too accustomed to the most common insects in Bali. Since that time, one of the most common questions we get from people traveling to Bali is what are some of the things to be careful of in Bali?
In this post, I will answer the common question: “Is Bali safe” at least when it comes to the common bugs and insects, and some of the other animals as well. We will not really touch on Bali belly but will focus more on the mosquitoes in Bali, and the other less pesky, more fun Bali insects. And, I am coming at this Bali insect post from a traveler and resident perspective, not a scientist perspective. This is not a roundup of every type of Bali insect or Bali bug. Just the bugs travelers to Bali are most likely to come across.
What are the Common Insects in Bali
Everyone who travels to Bali, and to Southeast Asia, has to get used to the bugs. It’s just part of traveling to a tropical destination. When we rented our villa in Bali, we knew we would be living with bugs because the villa was the epitome of indoor-outdoor living. Although we can close the sliding glass doors to the bedroom and sleep with air con, the room is far from sealed from the outside world. The entire downstairs is open air, with no real walls on the front and side. Our second villa in Bali, where we lived for well over a year, we had no air con, which meant the doors and windows were open a lot. Most of the living in Bali is indoors and outdoors – many traditional Balinese homes few walls.
One of the most common insects in Bali are dragonflies. They are lovely. Sometimes they rest on the edge of the pool, and I would have a conversation with them. Eric became the dragonfly whisperer any time one landed in the villa. He would gently walk over to the dragonfly and get him to step onto Eric’s finger. Then, he walked them outside. These are the types of Bali bugs I was happy to get used to. They are kind of charming and do no harm. It’s the other bugs in Bali that took some time to get used to.
Check out this post that discussed Is Bali Worth Traveling To At All? Is Bali Worth It?
We also had Bali ants. Lots of ants. Different kinds of ants. We had large beefy looking ants, medium-sized ants, small ants, and microscopic ants. Almost every morning we went into the kitchen, which was open to the elements, we would have a trail of ants leading somewhere. They will find the tiniest morsel of dropped food and will go to town.
The ants are everywhere. I never saw red ants in Bali. The big ants just freak me out they are so big. My least favorite was the microscopic Bali ants. They occasionally bite. They don’t leave a mark or an itchy bite, they just hurt for a second. But, how can something that small hurt so much?
This means that when traveling in Bali you have to get used to the insects in Bali. All of the typical Bali insect varieties. There are cockroaches in Bali and ants in Bali. For the most part, the insects of Bali are just a nuisance. There’s nothing you can do about Bali ants or Bali cockroaches other than to keep your hotel or villa as clean as possible. Don’t leave any food out, even bread. It all must be kept in the fridge or tightly sealed.
Mosquitoes in Bali
This is the most commonly asked question we get. Is there malaria in Bali? Is there dengue in Bali? The short answer is yes and yes. There really isn’t a Bali mosquitoes season. There are mosquitoes in Bali year round. Though, they do tend to get worse during the Bali rainy season, which runs from October to April. Malaria mosquitoes bite at night. Dengue fever Bali mosquitoes bite during the day.
Learn more about the Bali rainy season here
Are there mosquitoes in Bali? Yes! There are a few things to do, though, to avoid the problems of a mosquito bite in Bali. Chances are, though, you will get one or more mosquito bites.
The worst time for Bali mosquitoes in during what I call “the witching hour,” around dusk. This is the most important time to ensure you are using mosquito repellent.
The best way to avoid mosquito bites, though, is to wear loose clothing that covers your arms and legs. It’s also better to wear light color clothing. The worst I found was when taking yoga classes at dusk. The mixture of sweat and tight black leggings meant I would get bites through my leggings. Yuck!
We never took malaria tablets for Bali. And, I don’t think you need them if staying in the most popular areas, like Ubud or the Bali beaches. If you have a mosquito net in your room, then feel free to use it. We never did. I always found it got too hot.
The best mosquito repellent for Bali? Honestly, stay away from natural reppellent. They just don’t work. Try Repel Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent
Are There Snakes in Bali?
Yes, Bali reptiles are pretty common. There are lizards in Bali, which I talk about in more depth in another post. But, yes, there are snakes in Bali. Most of them are harmless, like garden snakes. There is one snake to avoid at all costs. It’s a bright green tree viper. It’s sort of small, but bright, almost fluorescent green. If you see that snake run away. Seriously. We learned from our gardner, Pak Mejo, quickly to avoid the green tree viper at all costs. The good thing is that your chances of seeing one are pretty slim. We maybe had 3 or 4 run-ins with this particular Bali reptile.
What About Bali Spiders?
It’s more likely that you will come across Bali spiders, in every shape and color. There are loads of different Bali spider species, from tiny ones to big gnarly ones. Most types of spiders in Bali are not poisonous. In fact, scientists say that there are no “lethal” Bali spider species or poisonous spiders in Bali. The ones that have all sorts of bright colors on them, though, I would avoid.
We got used to the spiders in Ubud and just sort of let them be. The one exception was the bigger nastier looking spiders, ones that were larger than the diameter of a coffee cup. Eric had a nifty method of removing the bigger Bali spider varieties from the house that involved a plastic storage container and a cutting board. This was particularly true if they were in the house at night. I didn’t need to be thinking about a big Bali spider roaming my bedroom while I slept.
Are There Bali Wasps?
Yes. The Bali wasps are nasty. When living in our first villa we had a big problem with giant wasp-like creatures flying around. I wasn’t sure if they were Bali wasps or a Balinese hornet. I just avoided them without naming them. They hung out on the balcony and occasionally would zoom in and out of the bedroom. One started to build a hive on our bedroom ceiling, but we put the kibosh on that pretty quick.
One Bali wasp sort of “attacked” us while we were driving on our motorbike. Eric drove, I was behind. The wasp flew into his shoulder, bounced off of it, and hit my hand. It stung. The Bali wasp sting hurt like an *expletive.* I have a slight bee allergy. I used ice to reduce the swelling of the Bali wasp sting. Of course, I took some painkillers as well. The bite mark on my hand was there for at least a week and was uncomfortable. It was not a fun experience, but I survived.
The Bali Frogs
Yes, there are frogs in Bali. They are everywhere, particularly around the rice paddies in Ubud. Most of them are small. Some of the Bali frogs are bigger. They would be in our house, in our yoga studio, jump out at us from our motorbike. They are not dangerous, just surprising and something to get used to.
What It’s Like Living With Bugs in Bali
What does it mean to be living with Bali bugs? Exactly what do you have to look forward to when traveling in Bali? We had a spider living in our bathroom for four months. He was just inside the open air part of the shower. At first, I watched him like a hawk when I showered, watching for any fast moves. He never went anywhere. Eventually, I realized this Bali spider was our first line of defense against other Bali flying insects that would try to enter the bathroom. For example, one morning there was a large spider web across our kitchen with four Bali mosquitoes trapped. Little spiders would pop up everywhere: on walls, floors, stairs, but they were easy to spot and easy to avoid. And, they eat the other insects.
I found an ENORMOUS spider within the first few months living in Bali, like a killer-looking spider, in my bathing suit when I pulled it off the drying rack. Eric found the same spider near our closet a short time later. That was fun, watching him try to capture it as he realizes this spider was the size of a small dog. Eric dropped him over the balcony. He was last seen on the tree next door.
We have geckos, which are the most fun. Watching them with their funny little feet climb all over. We have seen them eat mosquitos, and unfortunately pretty butterflies. I know it is survival of the fittest and the food chain and all that, but it still kind of bothers me. Unfortunately, the villa is a breeding ground of bugs, and these geckos are just not holding up their end of the bargain. They also leave gecko poop all over the floor.
How to Survive the Indonesian Insects in Bali
We had bugs in the kitchen, the bathroom, on the toilet, and in the bed. Our cheap rice cooker leaked and became a nesting ground for ants. I swear there was a colony of small bugs living inside the keyboard of my MacBook. I was never more fidgety in my life than when living in Bali. All I did was swat away bugs and ants. All day long. It made me mental. Even when nothing was crawling on me I still felt the sensations, and just thought they were crawling over my skin. Don’t they say the same thing about heroin addicts?
Back in the US, I would freak out if there were ants in the house. In Bali, I felt like I should be charging them rent. It’s just part of the experience of traveling in Bali. Just accept them.
FAQs – More Commonly Asked Questions About the Bugs in Bali
There are other common animals and insects in Bali. We saw other strange bugs and creatures from snails and frogs, to weird slug-like things that move slowly and then stick to the wall. They seem to die on the wall. I never was able to figure out that particular Bali bug.
- Are there bed bugs in Bali? It’s possible. Bed bugs don’t exist in one geographic location or another. They’ve been found in London and New York City. They are the result of unhygienic conditions at a hotel or villa. I never knew anyone who got bed bugs in Bali, but it is always possible.
- Are the other biting insects in Bali? There are all sorts of Indonesia bugs in Bali. Other than mosquitos and the Bali wasp sting, I don’t remember other bug Bali bug bites. I don’t remember any strange stinging flying insect, other than the wasp. That said, there might be issues with sand flies near the beach. Sometimes the small Bali ants bite, but it only hurts for a second.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.