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.