There are many dangerous insects, spiders and snakes in the humid and hot climates of Spain and Portugal. Most are seasonal, and the majority are usually with us in the summer months, but in Spain, we also have the winter months poisonous animals.
There are the usual wasps and bees that every country gets, but here are some of the more unusual pests which you will need to watch out for when holidaying in this part of the world.
First we have the most obvious, the dreaded scorpion. Found usually under rocks, these little devils pack a nasty little sting.
Whenever you are moving rocks, stones or basically anything from the ground, kick the item first, so it moves a bit away from where it was originally. This way you can see if there is a scorpion underneath, or wear thick gloves prior to moving something from the ground.
In the morning, before you get dressed, shake and check any clothes that were on the floor, and always check inside your shoes, but not by putting your hand inside them.
When you first get to your destination, always seek out the local chemist or medical centre, especially if you have children, this may save you time later on in case of an emergency.
If you have been stung by a scorpion, do not panic. First remove all jewelry as the infected area may begin to swell, apply a cool compress and seek medical attention. If no immediate medical attention can be given, take 1-2 tablets of Tylenol every 4 hours. Avoid aspirins and ibuprofen.
There are many different types of wasps in Portugal, Spain and Italy, and the surrounding islands. Most just give a nasty sting, and some of these wasps can look terrifying and quite large.
There is what is commonly called the dessert wasp, which is usually found in the desserts of Africa. This wasp would normally hunt Tarantula spiders, then they would sting the spider, which paralyses the Tarantula, and lay a single egg inside the Tarantulas stomach.
The paralysed spider then waits unable to move for months whilst the egg hatches inside him, and then eats the spider alive from the inside. Nasty. But a wasp that hunts Tarantulas? A scary thought, avoid this one at all costs. See also Killer wasps in Japan.
If you are stung by a wasp, ibuprofen will help as will applying ice or vinegar. If there is swelling away from where the initial sting, seek medical attention immediately, there may be a reaction to the sting which could be fatal.
Tourist Warning: Human Kidney Harvesting in Spain
These usually come out around October throughout till February. You know when the caterpillar season has started by the cotton wool looking balls in the pine trees.
These are the Processional Caterpillar nests, the nests start very small but after only a few days can be the size of footballs. The caterpillars come out to feed as the temperatures begin to cool in the evening, but they can still be found in the heat of the day.
They are easy to spot on the ground, they walk nose to bum. Hundreds of caterpillars marching in a single file line, a fantastic yet deadly site.
They hibernate during the summer months and can stay in the ground for up to four years until the temperature is right for them to come out. They do not bite or sting. They are covered in very fine hair, which they shed instantly they are disturbed, these fine hairs are suddenly airborne and if they touch somebodies skin, a rash will form within minutes, spreading through the entire area.
When an animal sniffs them, the hairs can get lodged into their nose and throat causing suffocation.
The Spanish can be seen cutting down and burning nests throughout Autumn. If you have been in contact with these, seek medical attention immediately, they will either give you an injection or a tablet for younger children, do not rub the infected area, you will spread the rash.
Warn your children about these, they are not pleasant. If you find them in your garden, carefully collect them with a shovel and burn them.
Out of over 1500 different species of spider in Spain and Portugal, there are only three which are quite poisonous. The black widow spider is one of them.
You can spot a black widow spider by the red spot on its back behind its head. If bitten by one of these little nasties, ibuprofen and a cold compress will help, but seek medical attention as soon as possible, it has been known for a grown mans whole arm to swell to twice the size.
If you get bitten by anything you are unsure of whilst in a foreign country, seek medical attention.
There are 13 species of snakes in Spain, but only 5 types are venomous. The majority of these venomous snakes are from the viper family.
The Asp viper (Vipera aspis), is also referred to as the European viper and the aspic viper. Reaching a maximum of 85cm in length, it is generally found in Northeast Spain.
The bites from this snake can be fatal.
Once bitten, if treatment is not sought immediately, the victim may begin to fell pain and swelling (edma) in the local area around the bite. After this, impaired vision, vomiting and even paralysis of the infected limb may begin to take effect.
Blockage of the veins by the venom may cause very severe hemorrhagic necrosis within a few hours, followed by kidney failure leading to death.
It has also been mentioned that two people died from possible suffocation due to breathing difficulties after being bitten by this venomous snake.
Snub Nosed Viper
Classed as a 'near threatened' species and therefore protected under many laws, the snub nosed viper snake is found throughout Spain. Preferring rocky areas, such as stone walls, this snake can also be found in sand dunes and dry arid land.
Growing to a meager 28'' in length, this Spanish venomous snake has a triangular shaped head and a zig-zag pattern on its' back.
Its' fangs are towards the back of the mouth, preventing many bites from actually penetrating clothes or skin. The venom can be completely neutralised by the injection of an anti-venom.
NB: Never run away from a snake, this may cause it to strike out. Always turn calmly, and walk away.
Other venomous snakes in Spain include the Seoane’s Viper, Montpellier Snake and the Hooded Snake. Although venomous, snakes are typically shy by nature towards human contact. But....always be aware that whilst travelling through Spain, a snake is never far away.
What kills over 2 million people every year?
The humble and very annoying mosquito kills more humans than any other insect. With an arsenal of diseases including dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever, ensure you are correctly protected prior to leaving for Spain.
Free Link: Human Kidney harvesting in Europe. Don't let your kidneys be sold on the black market.
THAT GUY on September 22, 2016:
To me it sounds like some sort of spider bite, did you feel anything when you were bitten?
Bee on June 09, 2015:
I have been bitten in Spain (Girona) the past 3 weeks twice by what appears to be the same insect as the symptoms are the same (The first time was 3 weeks ago, and the second was just a few days ago). I did not see the insect either time, only noticing a small pimple like dot that gradually grew over the days, The top of the dot has/has a pus like dot on it and there is a round circle surrounding the "bite". At first I thought it was a pimple so I squeezed it as it didn't hurt straight away but I probably shouldn't have done that.. as it wasn't a pimple.. then the wound was open and it got infected and the bite swelled up and became very painful and the infection spread to my glands making my sick and having to go on antibiotics. Then another bite appeared.. :-( again thinking how could this be the same thing.. another bite (symptoms matching a brown recluse spider) I tried once to pop it.. then worried it was the same thing, I put antiseptic cream on it and covered it straight away to keep infection out.
But again appears it is developing in the same way..
Does anyone know what this could be?
1. Bite looks like a pimple with a pusy head
2. ring around the bite
3. grows gradually over the next week
4. develops a hard tissue in it possibly pus the size of an apricot
I did seek help and was prescribed antiseptic creams when that didn't work and the bite became infected I went to hospital, they gave me antibiotics.
5. It became bruised, pusy, and scabby
6. pus came out
7. there were two deep holes
Saw a pharmacist and they gave me a "second skin" bandage and some other bandages to cover it and have been putting antiseptic cream on it, changing it every 3 days
8. Holes gradually got smaller and started to heal
9. The tissue inside my body began to get pushed out while the skin was repairing (apparently normal- looks like a mini brain popping out)
8. Still waiting for it to completely repair .. To be continued
hewhohn on May 25, 2011:
Hairy Caterpillars - Are these itchy?