Discovering Spain: How to Avoid Bug Bites and Jellyfish Stings
With perfect summer weather, beaches, historical attractions, delicious food and world-class cities like Barcelona and Madrid, it’s easy to see why Spain is such a popular destination for holidaymakers. In general, Spain is considered a safe destination for tourists. However, it is always a good idea to know about the minor dangers and annoyances presented by biting insects and other nasties before you go, so that you can avoid any problems during your holiday. Here is a quick guide to what to look out for and how to avoid getting stung or bitten by anything unpleasant.
Mosquitoes are found all over Spain, as they are in most countries in Europe, and although you don’t have to worry about serious diseases like malaria, they can still prove to be very annoying. Holidays to Spain should not be ruined by these bloodsucking pests, so take precautions by wearing anti-mosquito spray (one that includes DEET is best), especially at dusk and before you go to sleep. Also be aware that perfumes can attract mosquitoes and try to wear long sleeves and trousers during the evenings to avoid the worst of the bites.
Don’t let a fear of jellyfish prevent you from going in the water during your holiday in Spain; the beaches here are just too good to allow an unfounded fear of jellyfish to spoil your time. While it’s true that jellyfish can sometimes give you a nasty sting, they tend to be present in large numbers, which makes it much easier to know when they are in the water and when to stick to the beach. If you do get stung then you may want to take a trip to a local medical centre, but generally, stings don’t tend to be too serious.
Scorpions & Centipedes
Scorpions and centipedes are both present in Spain and they can both give you a sting that, while not fatal, can be very nasty. The best advice is to avoid any strange insects you see and to check your shoes before putting them on, particularly if you are staying in a rural area. You are very unlikely to get stung, but do be aware that there is at least a risk. If you do get stung make sure you visit a doctor promptly.
Sandflies are one of the more serious pests in Spain, and they are mostly found on the southern Mediterranean coast. Don’t worry too much, because if they bite you, it normally just leads to a nasty itch. However, if you are unlucky it could cause a very nasty skin disorder. Again, take precautions by wearing insect repellent and seek medical attention if you are bitten.
Ticks can become a problem if you go hiking in the countryside, especially if you walk in areas where sheep are present. They can cause skin infections and a range of other nasty diseases, so take precautions by wearing long trousers and sleeves when possible and try to avoid walking through tall grass and plants unless absolutely necessary.
You don’t have to worry too much about snakes in Spain. One of the only real dangers is posed by the Lataste’s Viper, and this is only really found in rocky areas. However, if you are bitten you should seek urgent medical attention because the bite can be fatal if not treated.
The Montpellier Snake is another one to keep clear of. It is blue and white in color, and sticks to more off-the-beaten-track areas. Wear thick boots if you go walking in the countryside, and if you are bitten by any snakes, make sure you go straight to the nearest hospital.
Avoid Bites & Stings in Spain
All of these creatures can cause disruption to your holiday in Spain, so do your best to take precautions and avoid them as far as possible. There is no reason to be overly concerned about any of them, but it still makes sense to wear the appropriate clothing and to be especially careful when visiting rural areas. If you do go off the tourist trail, always ask locals for advice, and keep a mobile phone handy so you can call the emergency services if you are stung or bitten by anything particularly nasty.
Justin Epley is a travel consultant. He mainly passes on his tips and ideas through blogging.