Insects

In many years of vists to the area we've never experienced anything other than the odd Mosquito bite - however it is useful to be aware of some on the more unfriendly insects (most of which you won't see)- so here we go!

We spotted this praying mantis on the Serella ridges. They do not bite humans, or spread disease. However, when handled, their spiny-like forelegs can be readily felt as a "sharp pinch." Mantids are most commonly seen in late September and early October either resting on plants or "fluttering" through the air, sometimes mistaken for a hummingbird. Some appear to resemble leaves or flowers in shape and color. This picture is a male - the female is larger and brown in colour.

Epiphiger Epiphiger or the Saddlebacked Cricket is a large cricket that is seen during the summer months. Despite its fierce appearance it is harmless (although it can nip you!) . The female as a large ovipositor. The male sings a lous "Ti Zi" song. This one was found with a leg missing. Click for large image
There is something that is supposed to be quite common called a Megarian Banded Centipede (Scolopendra cingulata - escolopendra). It's up to 8cm long and can give you a very nasty sting. We haven't seen one yet - let us know if you do!

The black widow spider (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus) is the most dangerous spider in Spain and gives a medically-complex and painful bite though it is not fatal. Females black widow spiders are shiny black when full grown. Since the females commonly eat their mate after mating (as do many other spiders) they often are widows. More info here

There are other spiders of course - if in doubt don't touch them.

There are a couple of native scorpion species in Spain, the commonest scorpion in Spain is the Mediterranean scorpion, but none are normally dangerous to the average person, the sting is usually like a wasp sting.

However, young children, elderly people or those with e.g. a heart condition, and especially those with an allergic reaction, should receive qualified medical treatment as soon as possible after being 'stung', in order to assure there are no potential complications.
You can sometime see many millepedes (Ommatoiulus rutilans) on roads and footpaths - perfectly harmless - if touched they roll up and look rather like a snail.
Don't even think about handling the hairy caterpillars of the pine processionary moth (procesionarias in Spanish). Sometimes found nesting in the abundance of pine trees on hillsides in this area. So called because they travel nose to tail in a line, processional pine caterpillars are quite small, but they present a major danger to trees and animals, and can cause a severe allergic reaction in humans.

Warn your children that they are not like the friendly English caterpillar. The very fine hairs are poisonous and most dangerous. The caterpillars are first noticed living in silk cocoon style nests in the pine trees to which they are most harmful, stripping them of the pine needles and when hungry they will leave their cocoon to seek out another as yet uninfested tree on which to feed. They travel nose to tail in a line, hence the name Processional. They are most noticeable from January to mid April and are at their most dangerous in mid/late February. Often seen in the evenings walking in lines going from tree to tree.

If they drop on you or your pet don't brush them off with your hands, the effect is most unpleasant, causing great irritation, rash and pain. Dogs, cats and people can suffer from shock. The caterpillars are still virulent even when dead. Do not hit them with sticks, hairs flying in the air are just as dangerous. more info here

 

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