“Thought it was a nightmare, but it’s all so true,
They told me, don’t go walkin’ slow, the devil’s on the loose,
Better run through the jungle,
Better run through the jungle, and don’t look back to see”

(Creedence Clearwater Revival)

It is easy to get a bit paranoid about the potentially deadly creatures that live in the jungle – they are there: snakes that can kill, predators that can attack and insects stings that can lay you out (or even end your life).

But it is also true that most animals want nothing to do with humans (very sensibly) and will get out of your way if possible – but if you are unlucky enough to hit a wasps’ nest with your parang, stumble across a King Cobra protecting her nest, a pit viper who can’t be bothered to move off the trail or even a pack of village dogs who don’t like the look of you…well, then it helps if you have an idea of what to do.

In this video we look at some of the potentially problematic insects you might find in the jungle here in Malaysia.  Probably the greatest threat to your health is posed by mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

However, the insect that really scares the locals here are the wasps, and with good reason: a worker I knew here died on the way to hospital after receiving multiple wasp stings, so it is a risk that should be taken seriously.

In my experience you often notice a single wasp before spotting a nest or his companions (I have often been ‘bumped’ by a single wasp, maybe as a warning?)  – that is the time to react; check around and make sure it is safe before you continue walking or clearing the trail.

There are many other insects that bite – ants can be a painful encounter as they can swarm onto you very quickly if you sit down on a log without checking first.

Centipedes give a particularly nasty sting and you need to be careful when pulling tinder from palm trees or when handling any sort of rotten wood (both favourite hangouts for centipedes).

Spiders aren’t, thankfully, a big problem – there are tarantulas here (which will give a painful bite) and the ‘labah beruk’ (less common but more painful bite), but neither of these are likely to kill you.

Similarly scorpions here in Malaysia are not as deadly as species found in other parts of the world and a sting will probably only result in swelling and numbness (and, of course, lots of pain).

Despite the fact that the insects here may not have such deadly venom as others elsewhere in the world, you should still take precautions as, for example, a bite from a centipede is most probably going to signal the end of your trip (for a few days at least) and a great deal of discomfort.  And, if you are trekking with children you need to be extra careful as any bite is a more serious affair for kids and there is a risk of them going into shock.

Precautions are simple – use a glove on your left hand and use the parang as your right hand – that way your hands, at least, have some protection.  Be aware and alert to your surroundings and keep off the jungle floor (and avoid using rotting logs as seats).

Although sheer bad luck can be anyone’s undoing when it comes to poisonous insects, it is also true that, somehow, the more precautions you take, the better your luck seems to get…