Virgin Islands Travel Forum

Dangerous animals and insects

November 05, 2004 12:35AM

*My family and I are going to St. Thomas in a couple weeks and we were wondering what mamals, marine life and insects we should watch out for.
Thank You!

November 05, 2004 01:01PM

Marine life: Sea urchins and jellyfish shouldbe avoided. And never sit, stand or touch any of the coral (unless it's sand, do not stand). It kills it and it takes decades to grow. Plus there is "fire coral" that you may not be familiar with and it has a certain sting.

Insects: Just wear repelleant, as they (mosquitos and sand flies) can be brutal to visitors (dunno why they leave locals alone and bite the tourists, but they do! When I first moved here I got eaten alive...a couple weeks later...nothing! Go figure).

Mammals: Nothing to avoid. If an iguana or mongoose doesn't want to be bothered, it will run away. You won't get near it. However, some iguanas are so tame that they beg for food. Throw the food to them instead of trying to have them eat it out of your hand. They have very bad aim and might get your finger. Doesn't hurt much, but it can bleed.

November 05, 2004 01:51PM

Mammals: Lok out for the livestock ni the middle of the roads. I had near run-ins with a herd of cattle, a bunch of goats, a pig, and the ever-present donkeys.

Ditto on the bugs: Take spray. One of our friends didn't wear it and he loked like a mess. His legs got devoured.

November 05, 2004 02:11PM

Look out for the land sharks!

November 05, 2004 07:20PM


Look over our section on fauna:



November 05, 2004 09:06PM

I can't believe you all forgot to mention centipedes! They are probably the most painful land critter to watch out for!

November 05, 2004 09:12PM

82 Posts

I've never met a centipede in STT. But, I've met a barracuda very close up!


John L.
November 06, 2004 09:34PM

in the 10 years I lived on St. Thomas I only saw one centipede, down at the stadium. It was about 2 feet long and had pincers the size of your thumb and index finger. One of the Frenchies selling fish ran over and chopped its head off with a machete. BTW, centipedes bite is deadly.

November 07, 2004 11:13AM

79 Posts

Too bad about that big centipede. It might have made an interesting aquarium pet.

November 07, 2004 05:41PM

I walked out my door this morning and found a terantula spider by my door. I heard they were on island but never saw one till this morning. I dont believe these terantulas are harmful?

November 08, 2004 02:37PM

Harmful or not...keep 'em away from me!!

So...with all the postings on *insects* on St Thomas, what is the best repellant I should bring along with me?

November 08, 2004 05:55PM

OFF with deet seems to work best. Like someone else said, tourists seem to get eaten alive. Mosquitos are the worst right after it rains here, especially when there is no breeze.

November 10, 2004 05:26AM

I always get bitten and locals look at my like Im crazy. Ive been here over two years and still get killed by the bugs. They say,"my blood must be too sweet."

November 10, 2004 03:32PM

Maybe there isn't enough blood in your alcohol system?

November 10, 2004 05:58PM

What about scorpions? Should we check our shoes in the morining? Are the scorpions there very poisonous? I know that it varies alot with the kind of scorpion.


November 10, 2004 06:19PM

41 Posts

I am also eager to hear a response about scorpions.
We have found SEVERAL scorpions in our home since May and are growing concerned.
Someone told me VI scorpions are not poisonous. Can anyone confirm this? How do you know for sure? What, if anything, may result from a bite from a VI scorpion?

November 10, 2004 08:42PM

Scorpions!!!! Of my 17 years living in the VI I have never heard or seen any thing that deals with scorpions.

November 11, 2004 03:11AM

I have seen them, also but I was 'told' that they were like a bee sting. I didnt test the theory but I think bee stings arent cool. I do know of a person who got a nasty spider bite in the night by her eye and it left a scar.....I never saw anything like that though before.

November 11, 2004 03:31PM

In 7 years here, I have only seen dead scorpions...and they are tiy compared top Texas scorpions I've never checked my shoes. The worst peoblem I had was bugs when I first arrived. They don't bother me at all now. A friend was bitten by a recluse spider, and that was pretty nasty. Apparently one had some some babies in his house, because it was a couple week process to exterminate them. But, that's the only infestation that I've heard of here. Basically, for visitors, the only thing that you may deal with is mosquitos and "no seeums", but if you bring some OFF or Skin So Soft, you should be fine.

November 11, 2004 04:12PM

As a past (and hopefully future!) visitor to the VI, I enjoy this board, but don't often have anything to contribute... but... I can lend at least a little insight based on my experience.

I took a 15 day rafting trip on the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago. Among other things, scorpions are present in this environment. Early in the trip, we saw one, and the guide made a point of getting everyone over to observe, saying many trips never encountered one. The little lesson they provided was along the lines of three sizes in the Canyon, (small - less than an inch, medium, couple of inches, and large, ??). The sting of the smaller ones tended to be worse, based on their unscientific experience. Stings range from feeling like a bee sting, to total body numbness, to death (uncommon!), from a reaction that is comparable to a person who is allergic to a bee sting, anaphylactic (sp?) shock. But treatment can be different. Guides said if they would ever encounter one they were trained to perform a tracheotomy with a goal of keeping oxygen available, the time it would take to perform a helicopter evacuation would be too long to save someone who had this experience.

A day or two later, one of our guides, who had spent perhaps 10 years guiding and as much as half his year below the rim, was stung. He said he had only seen 1 or 2 stings per year on trips he was on (20-30 people each time, 10-15 two week trips a year), and this was his first one. Not a bad sting, as things go. Then, another day or two later, I was stung on the neck while asleep. It woke me up, I brushed it off, it was a medium one. Since it was about 4 am, I didn't get a guide up, which I later learned was what I should have done. If they administer some sort of sting stick quickly it can neutralize some of the poison. By a couple of hours later it was too late for it to help much. I took benadryl, and they kept a close eye on me for a couple of hours. It reminded me of a super dose of novocaine, spreading out from the bite to about half my face and neck, numbing as it spread, then staying for awhile, then retreating. That whole process lasted about a day. I was also very tired, sleeping that morning, which might have been a reaction to the benadryl as opposed to the sting.

Our guides indicated there seemed to be more scorpions present that year, and wondered if the dry conditions were having an impact.

A year or so later I read about a study where they had discovered that some scorpions actually have two levels of poison, a first one they use to knock out prey, and then a much stronger one if they are REALLY in danger. It was described as a relatively recent observation, and the scientists wondered if this could explain why some reactions are mild and some much more dangerous.

Well, I have now distributed the sum total of my scorpion knowledge and experience, hopefully someone finds it at least a little informative!

Looking forward to being back in the VI down the road at some point...


ginger p
November 16, 2004 10:56PM

THANK YOU that was a fascinating post! this helps a lot even for arizona.....we have been there and luckily have not seen a scorpion
IN BAJA at cabo san lucas we had a scorpion in our room ...a very luxurious fancy resort...since the place is desert on the beach there are scorpions and the cleaning ladies leave those darn doors open when they clean so sometimes the little buggers walk right husband almost stepped on it!!!!!! he wound up putting it in a glass...and he and our friend took it to the FRONT DESK...alive....they laughed and said oh it no hurt you only little sick!!!!!
i am not thrilled about this
so just in case i will cover myself in skin so soft when i go to st thomas in december JUST IN CASE! YOU NEVER KNOW

when we were there in sept we had no bugs in the room except for one night that some tiny red mosquito/flies invaded the room....once we got rid of them and duct taped the sliding doors we were fine and they never returned

no see ums at night and mosquitos but that was all

as for the iguanas i like them

January 17, 2013 11:54AM

10 Posts

Any solid word on whether the scorpoions are dangerous? Just found one under my toddler's pack and play this morning. It was a tannish brown color and was probably 3-4" long. It scared us because of the close proximity to the babies. Not sure if we brought it home from the beach or what.

January 17, 2013 02:23PM

636 Posts

Yes, there are scorpions, centipedes, all kinds of spiders, ground spiders, tarantula's, bee's, wasps, jacks-panniers and numerous other insects.
Encounters are rare with these types of critters and there isn't anything that can kill you UNLESS you have an allergic reaction.
You'll mostly be bothered by mosquitoes, sand fleas and thrushie birds that will eat your lunch if you leave it out on a picnic table.
We have no poisonous snakes, the mongoose and iguana's are shy as are the small island deer which have a small population and
are no longer seen day to day along the road due to ever increasing bullding.

One thing that should be mentioned is that we now have Lion-fish in our waters.
If you should see one, take note of the location and please report it.
The sting from their spines are venomous however I have not heard of anyone, locally, being stung.

January 18, 2013 06:16PM

3,207 Posts

Any solid word on whether the scorpoions are dangerous? Just found one under my toddler's pack and play this morning. It was a tannish brown color and was probably 3-4" long. It scared us because of the close proximity to the babies. Not sure if we brought it home from the beach or what.

In 30 years here I've only encountered two scorpions, one of which bit me on my rear end and whose bite was quite painful. Their venom necrotizes soft tissue and the bite I sustained "wept" for a week or so and was rather uncomfortable before the body's defense army came to the rescue and started getting the healing process going. Dangerous? No, they're quite small (was the one you saw seriously 3-4" long?) and, like the the local wolf and recluse spiders they don't use their venomous defense mechanisms unless attacked (I sat on the one who bit me so he was quite justified!). The other one I encountered appeared in the shower stall and I simply swept him up and tossed him outside.

January 24, 2013 01:50PM

6 Posts

The most dangerous mammal I've ever seen in the VI are the dreaded boat people. They come in swarms and herds and attack without provocation! EEEEKKKK!! happy

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