There are of course thousands of insects all around you in the tropics, almost all happy to go about their lives without disturbing you. It does not take much luck to find stick insects, praying mantis or even scorpions, although some may not count that as fortunate.


It is actually quite difficult to spot many butterflies, but there are some magnificent bird-wings which you may be lucky to spot. There caterpillars look like something from a science-fi movie.

Port Barton food 003

Caterpillar of a Birdwing Butterfly in the grounds of a Port Barton resort

Trapped in Puerto Princessa one year when the roads were closed by a typhoon, I visited the Butterfly Farm which was an interesting diversion for a couple of hours.


If you leave your doors or windows open (but stay protected inside a mosquito net please) then you’ll probably see these little glowing sparks floating around when it’s really dark.


You will hear these! Some have emitted their “songs” which have been measured at over 105 decibels at a distance of half a metre. Seemingly more appropriate to a burglar alarm than the mating calls that they actually are.

You may often see the discarded husks of the nymphs exoskeleton on a tree trunk, left there when the adult emerged.


Not so much seen as heard and felt after they’ve had a good feed on you exposed legs / arms / neck etc. Islands fare better because of the breeze, but long clothes at dusk and dawn, mosquito repellant and coils as necessary, and a net to sleep under. Malaria is not common in Port Barton, nor is Dengue Fever, but just the bites are reason enough to avoid these pests. I have not taken antimalarials for many years now, but I don’t spend time in the area during the rainy season.


These tiny sandflies cause irritating little bites, some beaches have lots, some none at all. Usually you’ll only find out after you’ve been sitting there a while and start scratching your ankles.


Not venomous, but can be large with pincers that give a painful bite. We had one teenager staying on Capsalay who sat on a pile of wood that concealed a specimen that was perhaps 120mm in length and the pain lasted a few days.


There are perhaps 10 to the power 16 ants on earth, with a total weight and volume equal to that of humanity. The balance favours humans in colder climes, it definitely favours the insects in the tropics.

It can be quite entertaining to watch the tidal flows of large black ants coursing along their highways in the morning and returning in the evening. Less entertaining to stand next to a camouflaged red ant nest and dance away brushing off their aggressive soldiers.