Archive for the ‘Invertebrates’ Category

Asian predatory wasp in Spain

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Beekeepers and fruit orchard growers in Spain are facing the serious threat of Asian predatory wasp (vespa velutina nigritorax), which has spread from France. The species was first detected in the Basque Country three years ago from where it has spread to Castilla y León, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia . In 2013 it was found in La Garrotxa (Girona) in Catalonia having spread from a separate French population. Honeybees make up some 80’% of the wasps diet. Even more worryingly, the wasps also pose a considerable risk to biodiversity in Spain as  many plants are dependent on honeybees for pollination. As far as humans are concerned, people have been hospitalised in France after suffering anaphylactic shock as a result of multiple stings.

More here from El País

Hundreds of specimens of Vespa velutina, a species of hornet known popularly as “the Asian predatory wasp” or “the Asian hornet,” were found last month in the Vall d’en Bas, a valley in the Catalan municipality of La Garrotxa. The find has sent all kinds of alarms ringing among rural officials and local beekeepers, who know time is running out: if the nest is not found and destroyed by November, the females growing within will fly out and start their own colonies elsewhere in the region.

“Before the fall is out, the more than 200 wasp mothers now germinating inside the nest will seek new locations to create new hideouts and hibernate,” explains Josep Vilar, chief of the rural agents of La Garrotxa. Each female can produce over 12,000 offspring.

Tiger mosquitoes in Barcelona

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

tiger mosquito hostsInteresting chart comparing the dining preferences in Barcelona of native mosquitoes with the dreaded Tiger Mosquito, an invasive species from Southeast Asia. While the former’s victims are: 35.7% humans, 21.4% cats, 14.3% dogs, 8.5% Turkish dove and 19.1 % other birds (pigeons, parakeets and blackbirds, sparrows etc), the Tiger Mosquito feeds EXCLUSIVELY on humans, which it bites during the day. My own resistance has built up remarkably over the last eight years since they arrived, and although their bite is still a burning one, the swelling now goes down after about 30 minutes

Picos de Europa butterflies

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Lovely post by Lisa on butterflies of the Picos de Europa.

Fabulous fly rediscovered in Spain

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Entomologists across Europe are extremely excited by the rediscovery after 160 years of the ‘mythical’ Thyreophora cynophila at two sites near Madrid and in La Rioja. Thought to be the first fly driven to extinction by humans, it was considered one of Europe’s few endemic animals to have disappeared for good. According to Dr Daniel Martín-Vega in interview with the BBC, T. cynophila has acquired almost mythical status among the entomological community due to several reasons.

It lived on the carcasses of dead animals that are in the advanced stages of decay, whereas most carrion flies prefer less rotten flesh.

The fly was also said to have had an orange head that would glow in the dark, with some 19th Century scientists writing about how it could be found at night due to its luminous shine.

And 50 years after being described, the fly suddenly disappeared, supposedly for good, with the last sighting in 1849.

I found its possible ecological relationship with wolves fascinating:

Many aspects of its biology remained unknown, but the fly’s niche lifestyle was thought to have contributed to its extinction, as some experts speculated that it had a preference for crushed bones, in which it would lay eggs that turned into maggots.

Changes in livestock management in central Europe, improved carrion disposal following the Industrial Revolution, as well as the eradication of wolves and other big bone-crushing carnivores could have helped eliminate the fly.

‘Mythical’ extinct fly rediscovered after 160 years (BBC)

Snails as a bioindicator after forest fire

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

A team of Catalan researchers has studied the changes in the make-up of animal populations following forest fires, and have concluded that snails are a good indicator of forest recovery. The conclusions of this study, carried out in Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac Natural Park, will help to ensure that post-fire forestry operations that do not harm these species of molluscs, which are sensitive to microclimatic conditions of the soil and vegetation structure. More here in English

Beehives help wildlife

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

A scientific study by FAPAS has shown that the presence of beehives increases the production of wild bilberries by 80% on which bears and capercaillies feed. Fasas

Tiger mosquito continues to spread

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus)  is continuing its seemingly unstoppable march across Catalonia and is now present in 87 municipalities. The insect was first detected in the Iberian Peninsula in Sant Cugat del Vallès in 2004.

El Periodico

Catalan insects

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Lucy has another great post on her blog on some of the weird and wonderful insects she has come across on her travels in the Sierra de Collserola, Barcelona.

Wasp spider egg sacs

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Read all about wasp spider (Argiope bruennichi) sacs “cocoons are papery and covered with a silk mesh, while the egg sacs are suspended inside”

Dragonfly questions

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Steve is giving us all this week a basic education in dragonflies and damselflies. “Dragonflies spend a lot of time around water for a couple of reasons…