Beach Lifestyle

Guide to Beach Pests and How to Keep Them Away

Going to the beach is an exciting way to spend your summer vacation. But as you head to the water, you might not be aware that the beach has critters and creepy crawlers too that might bother you. Yes, believe it or not, even the most pristine beaches can host a lot of insects and pests.

You may not see whatever it is that may bite you, so it would be wide to know the common beach pests and how to help keep them away:

Types of Beach Pests

A bug crawling at the beach

Many of the pests found on beaches can also be seen on dry land. But only few species can adapt to the beach environment’s wet sand near the water’s edge and dry sand. Some of the most common pests found on beaches are insects. Beaches that are less crowded can also be a home to snakes and rodents.

1. Sand fleas

Sand fleas aren’t actually insects – they are tiny crustaceans that are too small to see. They are called sand fleas because their bites are similar to regular flea bites. This term is used to describe a different variety of biting and stinging creatures that leave an itchy red welt on the skin.

Sand fleas are commonly found in beaches near coastal areas and in marshes. They can also be found in desert areas. The good thing about them is that they don’t stay and come home with you once they get into your clothes because they prefer the seaside. However, a female sand flea can sometimes burrow under the skin and lay eggs.

To help prevent bites from sand fleas, avoid sitting directly on the sand. You can put a towel on the sand first before sitting on it, but don’t stay too long. It’s better to relax on an elevated area like a lounge chair.

2. Isopods

Also known as roly polies or pill bugs, isopods are common among beaches. They often live in the high tide line area and can be found burrowing in the sand. Beaches with isopods indicate high diversity of species among the beach area. These creatures need a moist environment to survive. Isopods are harmless – they don’t bite and they don’t typically require pest control. However, you might be bothered by it because it’s creepy looking.

3. Beach spiders

a spider by the sand on the beach

Spiders aren’t only found in your home or garden – it can also be found around most aquatic environments including the beach! Wolf spiders and dock spiders are common in the beach, and can be seen both in the sand and surrounding wet areas.

The beach wolf spider is an expert in camouflage, and if you do spot one, it moves surprisingly quickly. They are usually found almost anywhere within the United States and southern Canada. Its bite can be painful and even venomous, but they aren’t fatal. They are actually not aggressive, but they can bite if provoked.

Meanwhile, dock spiders are native to Canada, and are sometimes called fishing spiders because they prey on fish or tadpoles. They are found mainly near the water. They rarely bite humans, but their fangs are large enough to break the skin. They are also poisonous, but humans won’t usually be affected by it unless they are sensitive to its venom.

4. Rove beetles

Different species of beetles can be found on the beach, but rove beetles are the most common. They prefer moist environments and they feed on organisms found in the sand and water. They are completely harmless, though you probably don’t want to see them with you on the beachside.

5. Kelp flies

Kelp flies or sand flies can mostly be found in the beaches where driftwood, seaweed and surf grass is present. They are attracted to the kelp that washes ashore. They are commonly found in groups, and they can be found with red mites and other scavengers in their washed-up seaweed homes. They aren’t harmful to humans, but you might be annoyed with them flying towards you.

6. Mosquitoes

You may not think of mosquitoes flying around at the beach because of saltwater and waves, but they are most likely to be found in beaches with ample sources of fresh standing water. If there are areas like these in your vacation spot, use an insect repellent. Avoid the areas close to the water during peak mosquito times like twilight. If you want to watch the sunset in these times, make sure you wear long pants and sleeves.

7. Blood worms

Blood worms, just like earthworms, ingest sand and digest organic materials in the grains of sand. They are red in color and are commonly used by fishermen as bait. They are not pests per se as they actually clean the sand and are harmless, but they might be icky to step on or grab as you build a sandcastle.

8. Bed bugs

When you stay in a hotel or resort, there might be bed bugs lurking. They don’t choose where to stay – they can even show up in the most expensive and luxurious resorts. Help avoid bed bug infestation by inspecting the bed, window frames, nightstands and carpets for any bugs. Also, keep your suitcase off the bed and off the floor, and use a desk or luggage rack instead. After getting home, wash and dry all your clothes immediately to avoid bringing an infestation at home.

How to protect yourself from beach pests

Here are some helpful tips to avoid beach pests and protect yourself from them.  Also if you’re looking for options to help protect yourself check out our post Protecting Yourself from Sand Fleas and Other Beach Bugs.

1. Dispose your food wrappers or containers properly

The best way to avoid attracting beach pests is to avoid bringing food at the beach, which is the surest way to attract common pests like flies and bees. If you want to take a picnic at the beach, then make sure you eat them immediately and dispose the wrappers and containers properly. People make the mistake of bringing a large amount of food they can’t eat at one sitting, so they leave it lying around, which attracts aggressive pets and animals that would like to steal it. Minimize the amount of food you bring with you (only bring the things you plan to eat at the moment) and discard your trash properly and immediately.

2. Use bug spray and/or insect repellant

The most effective measure to prevent yourself from being bitten at the beach is to spray yourself with a bug repellent. Many people remember to take their sunscreens to the beach, but don’t forget to bring the bug spray also. Apply a layer of it on your skin and reapply if the waves washed it off. Products containing DEET are effective and will work just fine. Besides having these, it’s always best to put a physical barrier between you and the sand to avoid contact with fleas and other organisms.

3. Change early

Every time you are done swimming or hanging out by the sand, switch out from your sandy clothes right away before going to your car. You don’t want to bring any sand fleas or bugs along with you, as they may linger in your car upholstery.

4. Wash outside

If your beach or resort has showers, wash yourself there, as well as your pets and kids. Beach bugs can linger in the hair or fur, so it’s best to give everyone a thorough washing before doing something else.

5. Put your clothes in the wash right away

After your trip to the beach, toss your bikinis or any beach wear in the wash when you first get home. Those sandy clothes must not go in the hamper, as any beach bugs caught in it can stay alive.

6. When infested with bed bugs, wash all fabrics in hot water

If you have bed bug bites, you must wash off your towels, beddings, blankets, comforters and clothing in hot water. Scrub your mattress and box springs with a stiff brush to get rid of those bed bugs and even their eggs. After this, vacuum your mattress, the box springs or bed frame, as well as the surrounding floor. To prevent future infestation, you can use a zipper cover for your mattress to keep them enclosed.

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