Archive for the ‘Invertebrates’ Category

Tiger mosquito reaches Girona

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

The tiger mosquito continues its slow and seemingly unstoppable march, and has now reached Roses and L’Escala in Girona according to the Servicio de Control de Mosquitos de la Bahía de Roses y el del Baix Ter. La Vanguardia

New disorder threatens bee population

Friday, July 11th, 2008

There is growing concern worldwide regarding a new threat to the bee population. The Guardian recently reported a dramatic decline in bee numbers in the USA. The phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which whole populations of hives just ‘disappear’. The report reflects on various causes ranging from climate change to stress. In the US thousands of swarms are trucked coast-to-coast on tour, pollinating fruit crops such as California’s massive almond industry. The syndrome is also affecting colonies in Europe and an international research effort is under way, based in Switzerland, aimed at solving the mystery. Meanwhile in Spain populations are dropping dramatically. A Spanish blog, Miscelánea de Noticias Apícolas de España, gives regular up to date information.

Tiger mosquito continues to expand

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

The tiger mosquito continues to expand in Catalonia, doubling its area of distribution between 2006 and 2007, and now present in 55 municipalities including Barcelona. El Periodico

See also arrival of tiger mosquito to Spain (2005)

Spanish research into colony collapse disorder

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

From yesterday’s Guardian “Scientists in Spain believe they have found the killer parasite that is responsible for wiping out bee colonies from California to Cannes. The assassin, they believe, is Nosema ceranae, an Asian parasite which has worked its way into hives across Europe and America, wreaking terrible damage on the bees’ internal organs. Read more Guardian

And CCD or no CCD, this year looks to be good for Galician honey at least. Rain and cool temperatures have led to the best honey harvest for 20 years.
Meanwhile on the iberianture forum Dr. Pedro P. Rodriguez notes in this very interesting piece that “CCD has given bee researchers a field day with huge money grants. This is also good for beekeeping because I am sure that most of them will discover remedies to the ailments that may be affecting honey bees. Some of them already have. For instance Mariano Higes, a Spanish scientist,   isolated a Nosema variant that has been found in a great number of colonies seemingly affected by CCD. I live near Mr. Higes place of work and I have known him for over ten years. He is a talented and dedicated researcher who may have found another contributing factor to CCD. However, We should take into consideration that pathogens can inflict severe damage to their hosts when the host’s strength is weakened as happens when the bees are stressed. Spain had a severe drought two years ago which I am sure was responsible for a great number of honey bee colonies collapsing, and perhaps the newly discovered Nosema strain contributed to their losses but it is doubtful that it was the sole responsible factor. I keep my bee colonies in the area, Guadalajara Province, and my bees are not disappearing. I have fabulous bee populations in my colonies (See attached photograph). This statement is not meant to take credit away from my friend’s work, but to indicate that investigators must look further to other causes if we expect to arrive at a definite solution to CCD.” Read all 
More about bees in Spain

Andalucian funnel web spider

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Clive and Sue of wildside holidays and the iberianture forum have written another gruesomely entertaining account this time on the delights of the Andalucian funnel web spider, apparently the only protected spider in the EU., and which is found at various sites in Andalucia. Clive and Sue warn us:

“Be cautious if you are moving logs, rocks etc and see a sheet like web. If provoked these spiders will rear up in a threatening manner and can even give an audible hiss. A famous close relative is the Australian funnel-web (Atrax robustus), whose bite can be fatal. Macrothele calpeiana venom is mild in comparison giving localized but painful swelling.” Read

See also The dangers of oleander

Spanish mantis

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Sue of wildsideholidays has some great photos and information on the cone-head mantis and praying mantis in Spain here on the iberianatureforum

Black flies in the Ebro

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

My Tortosí friends have been complaining about these for several years now. The images of the bites I’ve seen on TV are nasty. We’re actually dealing with two species from Africa Simulium intermedium and Simulium ornatum On occasions, farmers with orchards along the River Ebro have had great difficulty harvesting their crops

Black flies in Catalonia

Spain hit by plague of blood-sucking black flies

Dale Fuchs in Madrid Monday June 25, 2007 The Guardian

A plague of black flies has prompted authorities in north-eastern Spain to issue warnings on TV and fliers advising people to cover up and avoid riverside areas in the early morning and dusk.
The insect has been quickly breeding – and sucking blood – along the rivers and reservoirs of Catalonia and Aragon, causing alarm in small towns.

Only two to three millimetres long, the fly is much smaller and harder to spot than most mosquitoes, but its voracious bite sent more than 2,000 people to hospital last year in Catalonia alone. Its vigorous jaw, which releases a cocktail of chemicals, can produce allergic reactions.

“If the mosquito is a neurosurgeon that bites with a probe, the black fly is a butcher that scratches the skin and makes you bleed,” Raul Escosa, member of an Ebro river environmental board, told El Pais.
“We had to take my 18-year-old daughter to the dermatologist and the allergist because she had a dozen swellings of eight to 10 centimetres,” said Jesus Llop, a town council member in the town of Mequinenza.

The black fly, an umbrella term for several Simulium species, was first detected in the region in 1997, and it has been making its annoying presence increasingly felt. Unlike the mosquito, it breeds in clean river water. Regional experts believe the current outbreak stems from improvements in water quality and new irrigation channels, which created a new habitat.

The insect injects an anaesthetic, an anti-clotting agent and a vasodilator into the skin of its host, who belatedly notices the damage after the fly has moved on. In Switzerland an attacking swarm reportedly killed a calf.

Insects in Sierra de Grazalema

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Some more lovely photos by Clive and Sue who run guided walking tours in the Sierra de Grazalema. They note “The scolia flavifrons are most interesting (male on the left, female to the right). These wasps parasitize rhino beetle larvae.. ” Below thread lacewing (nemoptera bipennis) -check out the head close-up in second photo which as Clive points out is amazing- looks to me like its wearing headphones, and, far right blue bee Xylocopa violacea