Snakes and Spiders in Iceland

Q: How bad are the midges/mosquitoes/flies in late August? And does Iceland have big snakes and even bigger spiders?

Barbara, United States

A: Iceland is actually one of the only places in the world where mosquitoes are not endemic.

The female black fly, also known as the buffalo gnat, will bite once after laying her eggs. This usually happens in late May to early June, although if conditions allow, some years a second generation of flies will breed later in the summer. Black flies breed in bodies of water, and for the most part remain near there for their entire life cycle, and so aren’t particularly noticeable in urban areas.

Since they don’t routinely rely on blood for sustenance, they aren’t a great bother in that sense, but they are attracted to the smell of carbon dioxide, and so in areas near lakes and streams where they gather in swarms, they can be a nuisance by getting in your face, eyes and ears.

There are no snakes in Iceland, and few spider species, none of which are dangerous to humans.

Yellow jackets have been found in Iceland since 1973, and can get somewhat aggressive around late August to early September. They tend to buzz around trashcans and are attracted to people eating and drinking at outside cafés.

Festival Weekend Begins

The first Monday of each August is Iceland’s ‘tradesmen’s holiday’ and the weekend around it, Verslunarmannahelgin (the Tradesmen’s Weekend) has become Icelanders’ biggest annual travel weekend.

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Cold Summer Not Putting People Off Highlands

Though summer in the Icelandic highlands has been cold, with snow still on the ground in some parts, the number of visitors has not gone down since last year. The huts at Landmannalaugar opened on June 15, a little later than last year due to snow, and have been full almost every night since.

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Russia Could Impose Sanctions on Iceland

Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin, says that trade sanctions against Iceland are a possibility in light of the Icelandic government’s continued support for Western sanctions against Russia following its support for the uprising in eastern Ukraine.

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Rapid Growth in Icelandic Aviation Sector

The increase in the number of international flights to and from Iceland has been massive in recent years and it is now forecast that 10 million passengers will use Keflavík International Airport in 2030. The turning point seems to have been after the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption in 2010.

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Kaufmanns-Wochenende: Feste im ganzen Land

Am Wochenende ist Verslunarmannahelgi (Kaufmanns-Wochenende). Entstanden aus einem Feiertag für Kaufleute, der immer der erste Montag im August ist, wird das lange Wochenende ab heute im ganzen Land mit Festen im Freien, Konzerten und anderen Veranstaltungen gefeiert.

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