I must admit, if it’s an animal in my house and it’s not my dog, I’m not a fan of it. Especially if it’s a creepy crawly. I’ve had my fair share of mosquito bites since I’ve been here, I mean, I’ve even had a trip to hospital la vila thanks to a very generous hornet that decided to share its sting with me. I’ve even had eye drops for a generous insect of some sort that decided to bite my eyelid. Trust me, they’re not fun.
But, on the whole. It isn’t too bad. Mosquito season is the worst for us and the awful caterpillars are the worst for Rio. Keep an eye out and know what you’re looking for. Here’s what I’ve learnt about the dangerous insects in Benidorm over the past years and what to do if you come across them. Is it okay to say stand on them?
Please note: I have never seen any dangerous insects or animals. The likelihood is slim slim slim. It’s just a case of being prepared with insect repellent against mosquitos and having relief at the pharmacy if you do get any stings and keeping away from the caterpillars, especially in the case of dogs. But, I’ve written some information just for your reference as it’s been requested by a few people. So, here it is!
Bees, Hornets and Wasps
The blight of my life back in October when a hornet decided to land on my arm and insert its sting into me. It was the most surreal of moments. I didn’t move. I froze. I watched it attack me. Alex managed to swat it away before the worst of the damage, but it was still bad. My entire arm went numb, in agony, he dragged me to the chemist. People definitely thought he’d done some damage to me.
The sting of these insects can be and are very painful. You don’t think it will be that bad until it happens to you. So be prepared, it’s a killer. If you get the sting in you, try to withdraw it immediately. Do not use tweezers because squeezing or pressing the sting can inject more poison.
If you can, use a knife or the edge of a debit card to remove the sting. It is normal to have pain, itching and swelling around the injured area for anything between 5 hours to 3 days.
To treat the pain, clean the area with cold water. Use local ice as often as you like to reduce the swelling and the itching. You can also head to the chemist where they will give you a cream, a tablet or a gel. I recommend getting the cream.
If you are allergic to the venom, such as breathing difficulties, facial swelling or rapid pulse, call an ambulance or head to the emergency department immediately. Call 112 for an ambulance.
Processionary Pine Caterpillars
These caterpillars are to be avoided at all costs if you have a dog. They are dangerous to dogs but also to children. Children may like holding caterpillars in England, but here in Spain, they are not to be played with. Do not touch the processionary pine caterpillars.
They are one of the most dangerous insects to dogs and can be found across Spain, but mainly in the countryside and mountains where there are pine trees. Naturally, from their name, they make their home at the pine tree.
One generation arrives in Spain each year and it’s vital to keep a lookout when they arrive. The nests of a processionary pine caterpillar are very easy to spot, usually looking like a huge candy floss mixed with a spiders web.
If you suspect your dog has ingested get them to the vet immediately. A processionary pine caterpillar can kill.
The blight of holidaymakers and locals alike. Here in Spain, there are three different species of mosquitos and the majority of them are nothing more than an inconvenience.
The common mosquito is the one that is usually found in houses, with low aggressiveness. They usually bite through the night. They tend to cause common irritation.
The tiger mosquito is a bigger more aggressive mosquito. Favouring flower pots and water, they differ from others by their scratched body.
The other mosquito is the Anopheles, that is found near clean water. It bites during the night and favours those wearing dark clothes.
I will cover how to treat a mosquito bite and how to avoid mosquito bites in a later blog post.
Those little annoying flies that people sometimes think are mosquitos or sand flies are actually biting midges.
The biting midges are around 1-3mm long. It is only the females who feed on blood, which is needed for the maturation of fertilised eggs. They will typically bite at dusk or dawn. They usually are found near water, marshes or rotting vegetation.
The bite of culicoides are felt as a sharp prick often followed by an irritating lump that can disappear in a few hours or a few days. Creams from the chemist can relieve local swelling and itching.
It is essential to protect your dog against sand flies to reduce the risk of it contracting leishmaniosis. The sand fly resides in wooded and garden areas, not actually in the sand.
Dogs can be bitten up to 100 times in an hour during the sand fly season which starts in May and ends in October. August is the month when it is at its rife. The flies are most active between 2 a.m to 4 a.m. They do not fly high so your dog is most protected in an upper room or flat at night. A preventative collar will protect your pet from 95% of sand flies for the season.
The best preventative treatment is “intervet” which is a collar based on mosquito repellants. The collar lasts for one season. Do not allow children to play or touch the collar.
To reduce the risk, ensure dogs are inside when the sun starts to set, do not give night walks where running water is and use mosquito nets to keep flies out of the house.
There are very few spiders that are dangerous in Spain and even less in Benidorm. It is almost impossible for you to come across one in the beach resort.
The only dangerous spider in Comunidad Valenciana region is the black widow spider. It is, however, the most dangerous of the ones in Spain. It gives a nasty bite but it is not fatal. They are incredibly rare. If you are bitten, try to kill the spider and keep the body so the doctor can determine which anti-venom treatment to prescribe. Do not ignore the bite.