Insects and creepy crawlies
The main insect problem is flies. There are no more than on a hot English summer day, but they can be a nuisance.
There are mosquitoes in Luxor. They do not carry the deadly diseases that are prevalent in some other parts of Africa. Most visitors never see a single one, but they are around, they do bite and they can draw blood. See the separate box on this page for more about mosquitoes and how to protect yourself.
Mosquitoes are usually only a problem at dawn and dusk. If you are out at those times, cover your legs and arms. They can also be a noise nuisance at night in the hotel room. We suggest packing a fly swat.
If the thought of mosquitoes bothers you it is best to take some precautions. Many regular travellers recommend taking vitamin B tablets for a week before you go and daily whilst you are there. Apparently it makes the blood taste nasty to the mosquitoes so they leave you alone. You can get Vitamin B tablets from most health food shops and pharmacies or you can get 60 tablets for less than £1 online. Click the picture to see.
Others recommend Avon 'Skin So Soft, Soft & Fresh dry oil body spray'. This body spray contains citronella and is said to act as a repellent whilst smelling nicer than insect repellent sprays. It seems to work on some people but not on others, so most people prefer to depend on some kind of chemical.
Amongst the more traditional repellents, most people suggest ones containing DEET (diethyl-m-toluamide), but it has an odour and it can stain clothing and damage synthetic fibres so be careful with it. DEET has been around since the second world war and although it still works, it has some modern rivals.
Look out for products that contain KBR3023, which has an official World Health Organisation name of Icaridin, but is also known by other names including Saltidin, Picaridin, Pikaridin and Bayrepel. According to the World Health Organisation, "KBR3023 has excellent repellent properties ... often superior to those of ... DEET .. At manufacturers recommended dilution, KBR3023 confers more than 95% protection up to 6 - 7 hours after application .. longer protection time than DEET .. can be recommended as the repellent of choice .... ". (WHO/CDS/WHOPES/2001.2 Pg28 3.4.2-3).
Picaridin is odourless and does not stain or damage clothing. It is an ingredient in some sun blocks as well as personal insect repellent sprays. It is also recommended against other flying insects, not just mosquitoes. The picture shows one example from Autan, 'Autan Protection Plus', which they say provides up to 8 hours protection against biting insects. It is available from pharmacies for around £5.50 per 100ml, or possibly less from some online suppliers. If you can't find it locally, you can get it by post by clicking the picture. Another branded product with the same active ingredient is 'Smidge', which the suppliers say has the added advantage that it is waterproof and sweatproof, so does not need to be reapplied as frequently as some other repellents.
For when you are in the room, there are products that you spray into the air rather than on yourself. You can buy them in Luxor. The hotel should spray your room for you if you report a problem. Alternatively, you could use one of the solid tablets that you place on a heater pad and plug into the mains socket. These give off a chemical gradually through the night to deal with mosquitoes and other flying insects. Some hotels provide them, otherwise you can take one with you or get one in Luxor. Effectiveness is variable. It is unlikely that one pad will be fully effective in a hotel room of typical size.
For more on malaria and whether protective medication is recommended (it isn't!), see the vaccinations page.
There are other flying things. Dragonflies abound in season (they migrate like birds, so they are not around all year). They are normally above or near water, so you are almost bound to see them in the Nile-side hotels. Dragonflies (and damselflies) do not bite people.
Occasionally there will be large hornets. These are the same insect family as 'yellow jacket' wasps, but can be a lot bigger. They only leave the nest in early to mid autumn, so are not a problem most of the year. Hornets do sting. The sting is similar in nature to a wasp sting, although in the species of hornet found in Egypt the sting is actually a little more toxic, and a little more painful, than a wasp sting. This is not a major problem for most people (apart from the pain) but if you are allergic to wasp stings and need to do something when you are stung, then you should be prepared to take similar preventative or remedial action against a hornet sting if you are in Luxor when hornets are around.
There are also small lizards. Again, not a problem, but be aware that they are around and that they may even climb the wall of the hotel.