Tag Archives: Invasive species in Spain

Hornets in Spain

Hornets are often considered pests, as they aggressively guard their nesting sites when threatened and their stings can be more dangerous than those of bees. There are now four types of hornet in Spain with three being introduced, considered invasive and a threat to endemic wildlife. (A fifth is often mentioned in the press but the Asian giant hornet (Vespa Mandarina) is NOT present in Spain).

  • Hornets (insects in the genus Vespa) are the largest in the wasp family and some species can reach up to 6 cm in length. There are around 22 species of Vespa in the world and most only occur in the tropics of Asia.
  • Like other social wasps, hornets build communal nests by chewing wood to make a papery pulp. Each nest has one queen, which lays eggs and is attended by workers that, while genetically female, cannot lay fertile eggs. Male hornets are docile and do not have stings.
  • Most species make exposed nests in trees and shrubs, but some build their nests underground or in other cavities.
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Lost Heritage: Cochineal and the Endangered Prickly Pear in Spain

In recent years, the uncontrolled spread of the Cochineal, Dactylopius coccus (Cochinilla del Carmin) has led to the near disappearance of the prickly pear (higo chumbo) in Spain.

Historical Significance

The introduced prickly pear (Opuntia maxima), originating from Central America, has played a vital role for centuries. It served various purposes, including being a source of food (prickly pears, higo chumbos), livestock feed, agricultural support, slope stabilization, and hedges.

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Zebra Mussels Discovered in La Pedrera Reservoir: A Critical Observation in Alicante

In a significant development, technicians from the Segura Hydrographic Confederation (CHS) recently announced Zebra Mussels Discovered in La Pedrera Reservoir located in the Vega Baja region of Alicante. This finding emerged during the CHS’s targeted campaign to monitor zebra mussel larvae and adults in various reservoirs associated with the Tajo-Segura transfer infrastructure.

The ongoing campaign involves technicians actively collecting samples from reservoirs such as Talave, Camarillas, Azud de Ojós, Crevillente, and La Pedrera.Technicians made this discovery during routine monitoring in La Pedrera, further expanding the list of affected reservoirs in the region.

Zebra mussel - Dreissena polymorpha - Mejillón cebra
Zebra Mussels Discovered in La Pedrera Reservoir

The invasion of zebra mussels poses a significant threat to continental waters. In just a few years, these invasive species rapidly expanded in the Camarillas and Talave reservoirs, prompting urgent measures from the CHS.

In response to this critical discovery, the CHS urges water users and individuals active in basin reservoirs to diligently clean any equipment that has come into contact with the waters. Accompanying this revelation is the CHS’s specific dissemination campaign under the slogan “Alert!, zebra mussel. Don’t let it get to you.” The goal is to raise awareness about the potential inadvertent spread of water pollution.

The zebra mussel, identified as one of the most impactful exotic invasive species in continental waters, has prompted controlled decreases in water levels in affected reservoirs. The CHS, aligning with its 2022-23 Zebra Mussel Shock Plan, aims to eliminate adult specimens and weaken larval populations through strategic measures.

Read about Zebra mussels here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/zebra-mussel-dreissena-polymorpha-mejillon-cebra/

This discovery emphasizes the collective responsibility to mitigate the ecological and economic impacts of invasive species. As the CHS continues its efforts, it calls on the community to actively participate in safeguarding water bodies and preventing the further proliferation of zebra mussels.

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Zebra mussel – Dreissena polymorpha – Mejillón cebra

The Zebra mussel – Dreissena polymorpha – Mejillón cebra is a species of freshwater mussel native to the freshwater lakes of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It gets its name from the distinctive striped pattern on its shell, which resembles the stripes on a zebra.

Zebra mussels are small, fingernail-sized mollusks that have become invasive species in many parts of the world. They have also become a significant concern in Spain, were first detected in Spanish waters in the mid-2000s and have since spread to various regions across the country and is present in over 60 reservoirs along with canal systems and irrigation channels. The consequences of these “blockages” range from the inability of a hydroelectric plant to generate power to the inability to irrigate fields when mussels invade irrigation reservoirs.

Zebra mussel invasive species in Spain
Zebra mussels filter large amounts of water, which can alter the natural balance of aquatic ecosystems and negatively impact native species. Their accumulation on submerged structures like pipes, dams, and water intake systems can also lead to clogging and increased maintenance costs for infrastructure.
Introduction of Zebra mussel – Dreissena polymorpha – Mejillón cebra into Spain?
Zebra mussel - Dreissena polymorpha - Mejillón cebra

The introduction of zebra mussels in Spain is believed to have occurred through the transportation of contaminated boats or equipment, particularly in water bodies connected to international shipping routes. (They may have arrived in the water inside a boat’s engine or in larval form as live bait for fishing) Once established, zebra mussels have the ability to reproduce rapidly and colonize new areas, leading to their widespread distribution. It is one of the most concerning invasive exotic species due to its almost unstoppable expansion, with a million eggs laid each year, causing environmental and huge economic damage.

Efforts to control and manage zebra mussels in Spain include monitoring their spread, implementing measures to prevent further introductions, and developing strategies for their removal. These efforts involve collaborations between government agencies, researchers, and stakeholders to mitigate the impacts of this invasive species.

Part of their successful expansion in Spain is that they require water temperatures of 13 to 14 degrees Celsius for reproduction, which occurs “two or three months a year” in their place of origin but can happen “six or seven months” here in the warmer climate of the iberian peninsular.

In less than 20 years, zebra mussels have gone from being present in just one reservoir to the entire national territory and the challenge now lies in containing their expansion. Complete eradication of the Zebra mussel – Dreissena polymorpha – Mejillón cebra is doubtful.

See a full list of invasive species in Spain here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/introduced-and-invasive-species-in-spain/


Ronda Today

Everything you need to know before you visit Ronda “The city of dreams” in Andalucia. https://www.rondatoday.com/

Visit Cádiz

Planning on visiting Cádiz? Tourist information. Monuments. Hotels. Activities. City guides: https://visitingcadiz.com/

The Caminito del Rey

Find tickets for the Caminito del Rey: https://www.caminodelrey.es/

Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Iberia Nature Forum

Discover the Iberia Nature Forum – Environment, geography, nature, landscape, climate, culture, history, rural tourism and travel.