Mosquitoes in Greece: Easy ways to protect yourself from being bitten

Mosquitoes in Greece: Easy ways to protect yourself from being bitten

Picture this: you’re on a dream vacation to Greece, with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and mouth-watering cuisine when suddenly you realize that there are mosquitoes in Greece and they are all around you! But that doesn’t have to be you, because in this guide we’ve got you covered with the most common FAQ and all the strategies to protect yourself from these pesky insects and have a comfortable and unforgettable holiday.

Understanding Mosquitoes in Greece

Greece is undoubtedly a beautiful country, but it also has its fair share of mosquitoes, especially during the summer months.

Mosquitoes are called gnupies in Greek, which is pronounced as nupies.

Hiking trail between Fira and Oia along the Santorini caldera, Greece
Hiking trail between Fira and Oia along the Santorini caldera, Greece

In 2023 the Greek government put out a health warning about the dangers of being bitten by mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever and the Zika and Chikungunya viruses.

The Greek media seem to have a reporting blitz each year around the deadly diseases that can be carried by mosquitoes in Greece, and although they are seasonal, there certainly have been cases of dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya virus in humans from mosquitoes in Greece in the past few years.

So while it’s certainly not a national emergency, before setting out on your Greece trip, it’s a good idea to understand the types of mosquitoes you might encounter, their habitats, and breeding grounds, and the health risks associated with mosquito bites.

By being informed you can take the necessary precautions and enjoy your holiday without any unwanted surprises.

Mosquito habitats and breeding grounds

Mosquitoes come in all shapes and sizes, and Greece is home to 13 different species, with Culex pipiens being the most dominant. This species is active from dusk, throughout the night, until dawn, so these are the main times to protect yourself.

Swatting a mosquito
Swatting a mosquito

That said, Greece has a bunch of other mosquito species that are active during the day, but the Culex pipiens is the most common.

Mosquitoes in Greece are commonly found in peri-urban, rural, and natural areas containing water bodies that act as breeding grounds.

These insects are particularly fond of stagnant water, such as ponds and marshes, where they lay their eggs.

Balos Beach, near Chania in Crete, Greece
Balos Beach, near Chania in Crete, Greece

Mosquitoes are prevalent in central Macedonia and on the island of Crete.

The southern part of Greece – Peloponnese region as well as the Greek islands, has diverse mosquito fauna, with multiple vector species present. In 2022 there was an outbreak of West Nile in Central Greece.

Health risks associated with mosquito bites

Although mosquito bites can be irritating and uncomfortable, the risk of serious mosquito-borne illnesses in Greece is relatively low.

 Beautiful Thessaloniki at sunset, North Greece
Beautiful Thessaloniki at sunset, North Greece

However, mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as the West Nile virus, which tends to be most active in the beginning and end of the summer months and can require urgent medical treatment.

There have been dozens of reported cases in summer in each of 2022 and 2023 of the West Nile virus in Greece, with Thessaloniki being the most affected area. In fact, in 2022, Greece was second only to Italy with West Nile virus transmitted by mosquitoes.

The Axios Delta is a large wetland area where scientists first discovered West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes in 2010. Probably not a great spot for a holiday in August!

Natural Repellents for a Mosquito-Free Vacation

Insect repellant is an important defence against mosquitoes in Greece
Insect repellant is an important defense against mosquitoes in Greece

In 2022, a study in Crete found insecticide-resistant mosquitoes for the first time in Greece. There are several natural repellents you can use to help keep mosquitoes at bay during your trip to Greece.

Essential oils and homemade sprays can be an effective solution, while certain plants like basil and lavender can also help deter mosquitoes.

By using natural repellents, you can not only minimize your chances of being bitten but also reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals found in some commercial insect repellents.

Plus, you’ll smell delightful with a botanical scent, which is an added bonus.

Essential oils and homemade sprays

Essential oils, such as citronella, lemon eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, basil, eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme, and sage, have been proven effective against mosquitoes and you’ll find candles and coils infused with these available in supermarkets, mini-markets and hardware stores in Greece.

citronella candles and mosquito coil
Citronella candles and mosquito coil

You can also create your own homemade spray by combining these essential oils with water and other ingredients, such as olive oil, in a spray bottle.

These homemade sprays can be applied to clothing, skin, and around your hotel room or apartment. You can even spritz your bed linens and clothes with the essential oil blend for some extra protection.

A not-so-great smelling Greek remedy for repelling mosquitoes is vinegar!

Precautions and Protective Measures

Clothing and accessories

Wearing protective clothing, such as denim, wool, velvet, and nylon ripstop, can help keep mosquitoes from biting you.

This is great if you’re in a nightclub in Mykonos, but otherwise, linen and cotton long sleeves and pants, especially at dusk and dawn, are a good first line of defense against the little buggers.

Mosquitoes flying around a child's legs
Mosquitoes flying around a child’s legs

Additionally, Insect Shield Apparel and Gear is registered to repel mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and midges. Finally, Permethrin-treated clothing is another effective option for repelling mosquitoes.

Safe sleeping arrangements

To avoid mosquito bites while sleeping, sleep inside a mosquito net, under a fan or A/C with good airflow, or try using electric mosquito repellents.

Santorini hotel bed with mosquito net, Santorini Greeece
Santorini hotel bed with mosquito net, Santorini Greeece

Showering before bed can also minimize the scent of sweat, which attracts mosquitoes.

Reducing exposure to mosquito breeding sites

One of the most effective ways to minimize your risk of mosquito bites is to reduce your exposure to mosquito breeding sites, especially if you’re camping or have rented a house:

🦟 Remove or dump out any water-holding containers,

🦟 cover unused tires,

🦟 stay away from still water, such as ponds, drains, and irrigated areas.

By taking these precautions, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of encountering mosquitoes during your trip to Greece. This will allow you to enjoy your vacation without the constant worry of being bitten.

What to Do if You Get Bitten

Even with the best precautions and protective measures in place, it’s still possible to get bitten by mosquitoes in Greece.

Mosquitoes just seem to love some people more than others, and in a hot and humid climate, you may not be able to avoid every little bugger circling you when you’re off guard.

First aid for mosquito bites

If you get bitten by a mosquito, the first thing you should do is wash the affected area with soap and water. Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the bite for at least 10 minutes can help reduce pain and swelling.

Woman applying first aid for a mosquito bite on the leg
Woman applying first aid for a mosquito bite on the leg

To alleviate itching, consider using a hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion on the affected area. If the bite becomes infected or you experience other symptoms like fever, nausea, or vomiting, it’s essential to seek medical help immediately.

There are lots of OTC medicines that can help and a visit to the pharmacy can calm your itching and swelling.

When to seek medical help

Mosquito-borne illnesses can cause a range of symptoms in addition to swelling and itching if the mosquito is carrying a virus. Infections like West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue, and malaria can result from mosquito bites.

Emergency health care center sign, Sissi, Crete, Greece
Emergency health care center sign, Sissi, Crete, Greece

It’s important to seek medical help if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction that could become life-threatening, or if the mosquito bite becomes infected, as evidenced by redness, swelling, warmth, or pus.

Additionally, if you start to notice symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness a few days after the bite, it’s crucial to get medical advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there mosquitos in Greece?

Yes, there are mosquitoes in Greece. The most common species are Culex pipiens, Anopheles Sacharovi, and Anopheles Maculipennis, all of which can carry the West Nile virus and other diseases.

2. Are mosquitoes a problem in Greece?

Yes, mosquitoes can be a problem in Greece in the summer months. The best way to avoid bites is to take insect repellant and avoid stagnant water.

3. Are mosquitoes a problem in Crete?

Because of its higher rainfall, the western regions of Crete have more mosquitoes than the rest of the island, but they peak all over Crete during June-September. A 2022 study found mosquitoes that were resistant to insect repellent on the island.

4. What months are mosquitoes most active in Greece?

Mosquitoes in Greece tend to be most active during the summer months of July and August, especially in areas near the water such as Mykonos.
So if you’re planning a trip to Greece, it’s important to bring bug spray!

5. Do mosquitoes in Greece carry diseases?

Greece does have some mosquito species which can transmit diseases, such as the West Nile virus. Though these mosquitoes are not overly common in Greece, it is wise to take precautions while traveling to minimize your risk.
Mosquito repellent, long-sleeved clothing, and avoiding standing water are all good ways to reduce your risk of being bitten.

6. How do you prevent mosquito bites in Greece?

To avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes in Greece, use EPA-registered insect repellents and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin and keep mosquitoes out of your hotel room or lodging.
Sleep under a mosquito net and consider treating rooms with an insecticide too.

7. Do I need mosquito spray in Greece?

During the summer months in Greece, mosquitoes are present, and some of them carry viruses such as the West Nile Virus. Around bodies of water, you’re most likely to be bitten and so mosquito spray in Greece is an important requirement for travellers to pack for their summer holidays.

8. Are mosquitoes bad in Greece in October?

The peak month for mosquitoes in Greece is August with the summer months being the worst. In October in Greece, there are still mosquitoes active at night and some species are also active during the day, but there are fewer than during the summer.

9. What virus do you get from mosquitoes in Greece?

Although the infection rate is low, mosquitoes in Greece do carry viruses that include West Nile virus, Zika virus, and Chikungunya virus.