Travel expert Christopher Knipe has warned tourists heading to popular European destinations this summer about the most dangerous wildlife living there.
Especially many “creeping” dangers threaten travelers in Spain, France and other hot countries.
1. Asian hornet (France and Spain).
Although the Asian hornet originally lived in Southeast Asia, it did reach France in 2003 and Spain around 2010. They are not prone to excessive aggression but may sting if they feel threatened or if their nest is attacked. Hornets are usually about 3-4 cm long, but queens can be longer than 5 cm.
2. Long-nosed adder (South-Eastern Europe).
Tourists traveling to countries such as Hungary, Austria, Italy or Northern Albania should beware of the long-nosed viper (by the way, there are also many vipers in Ukraine, especially in the Carpathians – ed.). The small viper is usually seen on farms, in open fields and on rocky slopes, but is very unlikely to be seen in the city. In extreme cases, the bites of a long-nosed viper can be fatal, but the chances of survival with timely medical assistance are quite high.
3. Processionary Pine Caterpillars (Spain and other European countries).
Although these caterpillars look cute and fluffy, they can be extremely dangerous to children and dogs. Their “fluffy” hairs are actually toxic and can cause rashes, eye irritation, coughing and allergic reactions. The hairs of the caterpillar are also blown by the wind.
4. Mediterranean funnel spider (Mediterranean coastal areas).
This spider got its name because of its funnel-shaped web. It is one of the largest species of spiders in Europe – female spiders are about 3 cm long and usually larger than males. These spiders are active year-round, and their bites can be quite nasty, so it’s best to avoid them.
5. Black widow spider (France, Mediterranean, Central Asia).
This spider is active in Corsica, Provence and along the Atlantic coast and is the most dangerous arachnid in France. Black widow venom is about 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom and has serious consequences: it can damage the nervous system, cause hallucinations or even cause behavioral disorders. However, most victims recover without serious complications.