What could be dangerous about lying on a beach under the Spanish sun, drink in hand and latest novel on your Kindle? Nothing you might suppose but take a few steps back into the undergrowth that backs the beach and a hospital trip might await you.
has many species of spiders of which four can give you a nasty sting and potentially cause more serious problems. Many of the names will be familiar to you and strike fear into your heart…
The Black Widow Spider
This spider seems to get everywhere these days, even into the UK, and as soon as the name’s mentioned, everyone starts to panic. The truth is that much of its reputation comes from its name and its unsavoury habit of munching through its mate after reproduction. Hollywood films have added to the hysteria when in fact all you’ll get is a painful bite, slightly more uncomfortable than a wasp sting, followed by muscular spasms and muscle pain, especially in the abdomen. The bite is rarely fatal. They are found in undergrowth and in Spain’s mild climate are active throughout the year but are more likely to sting during the mating season.
Mediterranean Funnel Web Spiders
A spider whose appearance is worse than its bite, the Mediterranean Tarantula grows up to 14cms across with a body around the size of an egg. They do bite but the effect is no worse than a wasp sting. Greater discomfort is caused by the ejecting of the bristles on their backs when they are threatened. These give the same sensation as when you get glass fibre strands in your skin and can irritate for days. The spider is a night hunter so it’s unlikely you’ll see it unless you’re fond of night time orienteering.
Brown Recluse Spiders
This spider is another disappointment whose reputation is linked to its fatal cousins in Australia and especially to Sydney. The Mediterranean Funnel Web is part of a separate family within the Funnel Web group. They look impressive and live in the typical funnel shape web of the horror films but again only nip, causing a sting rather than a serious bite. Look for them (or avoid them, depending on your propensity) in undergrowth and woodland or any shady spot; behind sheds, alongside garages or in hedges. Active all year round during the day and night, they are commonest along the Mediterranean coastal areas.
Whilst sounding a little tame, these are the spiders to look out for as, whilst they’re less dangerous than their international cousins, they still pack a nasty bite which you may not feel at first but which, after a few hours, raises to a blister with a red centre, rather like a bull’s eye. The bite eventually becomes very painful. The name tells you that these arachnids are more likely to be hidden away, possibly even in shoes or clothes, and are active all year round, hunting at night.
All of these spider bites in Spain need anti-venom which is held by most pharmacies, hospitals and doctors. You’re recommended to kill the offending beast and take it with you for identification but try not to squash it or get bitten again in trying! The chance of you being bitten is minimal but it pays to be aware of the danger that lurks where you might least expect it!
If you are an arachnophobe or just have a dislike of spiders but love Spain, don't let this put you off. Whilst they may look scary and if you do get bitten, it can be painful, the chances of it happening are minimal. Millions of tourists flock to Spain every year to enjoy its pleasant climate and relaxed atmosphere and only a handful will come into contact with any of the above. So, if you plan to holiday in Spain this year and are scared of spiders, you could do far worse, for example, check out our blog on spiders in Australia
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