Spiders - Centipedes - Scorpions in Spain

Spiders, Scorpions and Centipedes in Spain

Spiders

There are more than 1,700 species of spider in Spain but only three can sometimes be harmful to us. The black widow (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus) gives a medically-complex and painful bite though it is not fatal. They are commonest in Valencia and Andalucía, and they can be a problem in the greenhouse estates of Almeria.

Historically, the bite of the black widow, along with hysteria, was often responsible for the condition of tarantism, though at the time the totally innocent and much less-potent but fearsome-looking true European wolf spider (Lycosa taratula ) from Italy got the blame.

The spiders of the Iberian Peninsular take on many forms, the most fun looking ones are perhaps the jumping spiders which are very small and are quite agile as their name suggests. One of the brightest of this form is scarlet and black but only about 4mm in size. Another spider that is easy to observe and has bright colours are the Crab Spiders (Thomisidae species), which usually takes on the colour of flower petals and sit quietly, well camouflaged and wait for a bee etc to land.

One of the larger spiders indigenous to Spain is the Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula) which lives in burrows in the ground, hunting its prey by night. Another is the Andalusian Funnel Web Spider (Macrothele calpeiana) which receives European level protection. This one can give a painful but not serious nip if threatened.

This is an ongoing project and links will be green if they are live and lead to further information.


Scorpions

Spanish yellow scorpion – Buthus occitanus – Escorpión común o amarillo
Spanish yellow scorpion – Buthus occitanus – Escorpión común o amarillo

There are five types of Scorpion indigenous to the Iberia peninsular, the most common in the south being the Spanish Yellow Scorpion (Buthus occitanus). In 2004 two new Buthus species have been described from Iberia: Buthus ibericus and Buthus montanus. (These scorpions were previously classified as Buthus occitanus). The European Black Scorpion (Euscorpius flavicaudis) inhabits the more northerly parts of Spain preferring wetter areas, whereas the small rare, cave dwelling Belisarius xambeui can only be found in the Catalonian Pyrenees.

Euscorpius balearicus is endemic to the Balearic Islands.

  • Spanish yellow scorpion – Buthus occitanus – Escorpión común o amarillo Adult Common Yellow Scorpions can measure 8 cm long (12 to 15cm with the tail extended). They have eight legs and two pincers (pedipalps). The tail is segmented, ending in a pale brown spur.
  • Iberian yellow scorpion – Buthus ibericus – escorpión amarillo ibérico is found in western Spain and Portugal.
  • Sierra Nevada scorpion – Buthus montanus – Escorpión amarillo de Sierra Nevada as its name suggests found in the Sierra Nevada area of Andalucia.
  • European yellow-tailed scorpion – Euscorpius flavicaudis – Escorpión negro o de cola amarilla is a small black scorpion with yellow-brown legs and tail (metasoma). Adults measure about 35–45 mm (1.4–1.8 in) long. It has relatively large, strong claws (pedipalps) and a short, thin tail.
  • Blind cave scorpion – Belisarius xambeui – escorpión ciego is endemic to the Pyrenees in Northern Spain.
Introduced species:
  • Florida bark scorpion (Centruroides gracilis), from South American, has been listed in the Canary Islands.
  • Lesser brown scorpion (Isometrus maculatus), which has been noted on the coast of Huelva (Atlantic south west coast of Andalusia), was accidentally brought across from America.

Centipedes and milipedes

There are various forms of Centipedes and Millipedes, from the peculiar Long Legged Centipede (Scutigera Coleoptrata) to the much larger, poisonous, Megarian Banded Centipede (Scolopendra cingulata). Sometimes sizeable groups of millipedes will collect together under rocks.


Spiders, Scorpions and Centipedes in Spain

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