As a hot place Gran Canaria has its share of household pests but none of them are dangerous. Here’s the Guru’s guide to getting rid of everything from woodworm to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Known as American cockroaches, the big brown cockroaches you get in Gran Canaria get everywhere but rarely in numbers. Most of the time you find one or two in a flat. If you find lots, there’s somewhere warm and safe where they are hiding.
Check manholes, pump rooms, inside double plant pots, etc.
The best way to kill one is with a shoe. It’s quicker than chasing them around with a can of insecticide. That whole myth about the eggs spreading if you squash a cockroach is nonsense ( trust me, I’m a zoologist).
To keep them out of the house, buy a persistent spray and spray entry points like doors and windows. Also, give plugholes a quick blast as cucas love hiding in pipes. Use bleach on kitchen surfaces and clear away all food remains at night.
People often advise using boric acid to kill cockroaches, but it hasn’t worked for us. They just seem to eat it and get bigger.
Adult cucas can fly perfectly well, but only do so on warm nights.
If you find lots of little cockroaches in your kitchen, you have a problem. Known as German cockroaches (although the Germans blame them on the Russians), these little monsters live in colonies behind kitchen cabinets and fridges and are remarkably persistent.
Either get the fumigators in or prepare for a long campaign of persistent insecticide and sticky traps (look in Chinese supermarkets).
Gran Canaria mosquitos don’t carry diseases but they are a pain. The best way to keep them out is with gauze blinds but this is tricky with aluminium windows.
Instead, use the plugins that release a smell that mozzies don’t like. Use the ones with a phial of liquid and you get a mozzie-free month for about three euros.
Known as carcoma, woodworm just love the warm conditions in Gran Canaria and turn solid wood doors and picture frames into powder in just a few years. Look out for woodworm pooh on your windowsills and by doors (it looks like sand).
Treat affected areas with a specialist carcoma spray from a ferreteria. Repeat several times.
If you have a pine door, ceiling or verandah, look out for giant holes up to a centimetre across. You may also hear grinding sounds at night that stop when you tap on the wood.
Holes and noises mean your pine is infested with longhorn beetle larvae and is doomed without treatment. Blast any holes with carcoma spray and if any of the wood feels soft, get an expert to look at it. With time, longhorn grubs can eat through even the thickest pine support beams.
Termites aren’t as common as woodworm in Gran Canaria but sometimes infest wood beams that are in contact with the ground. Use specialist sprays and get an expert to check support beams.
Black ants about two millimetres long tend to come in from outside in search of food (especially sweet stuff). Keep sugar and all perishable food in sealed containers and zap any ant trails with persistent insecticide (hide the cat first).
But first, follow the trail back to its source and dump a kettle of boiling water down the holes.
If you find tiny, golden ants about a millimetre long, you have pharaoh ants. They seem to love toothbrushes and Lyles Golden Syrup.
Pharaoh ants are a pain as they seem to survive most treatments. Hygiene and insect sprays keep them at bay.
Gran Canaria’s giant lizards (up to 80 centimetres long) are an endemic and heavily protected species and you aren’t meant to touch them.
That said, if there’s one in your living room or stuck in the bath, just poke it into a bucket with a broom and chuck it over the fence into the neighbour’s place.
Never pick a lizard up by the tail as it’ll fall off and thrash about while the lizard leaves a trail of blood on the carpet.
Big ones bite. Hard!
Geckos are harmless and eat mosquitos. If you have one in the house feel privileged and don’t spray the room with insecticide.
Everyone who lives on the ground floor gets a mouse in the end. Often you’ll find chewed up newspaper along with droppings and a musty smell. Gran Canaria mice aren’t all that bright and walk straight into traps baited with a square of Cadbury’s dairy milk.
It’s fine to use sticky traps to catch mice. It’s not fine to throw the trap in the bin without putting the mouse out of its misery first.
Jehovah’s Witnesses & their ilk
This is one is mercifully simple. It’s illegal to go door-to-door in Spain peddling religion. If you find God-botherers on your doorstep just invite them in, lock the door, and phone the police. They will escape out of the window and won’t come back.
Or just tell them that what they are doing is illegal and watch them scarper.