Monday, January 24

The ‘killer bug’ is already in Spain, with a painful bite

A new insect with a powerful peck has settled in Spain and it seems that it has done so to stay. It is the ‘hunter bug’ or also called ‘killer bug’ (because it kills other invertebrates), from Mexico and the southern US. It is another of the invasive species that are reaching our country favored, among other things, by climate change.

According to a recent study by researchers Adrià Miralles-Núñez, Carlos Pradera and Juan A. Pujol, the The zeal rinardii It is spreading rapidly in Europe, especially in countries in the Mediterranean basin. For now, in Spain it has already been detected in the Valencian Community, Madrid and Cádiz, but the authors predict its expansion throughout the country.

The striking insect is an effective predator of other insects and invertebrates, so causes a negative impact on the habitat of indigenous species.

Orange in color, with six legs and an antenna that stand out for their length, they catch their prey on the prowl, with a behavior similar to that of the much better known Praying Mantis, although they are more sensitive to movement. It is a reduvid heteropteran with partially hardened wings, with a biting-sucking mouth that feeds on juices or blood,

Those who have suffered their bite assure that produces severe, sharp pain it lasts for several minutes before disappearing, “although in some people it can last for hours,” the study notes.

After the bite there is a small wound. The truth is that this insect has bitten at any time of the day, both indoors and outdoors, and researchers studying its progress suggest that “they could be attracted to humans when they move.”

Expands from the lift

The first case of sting that is recorded in Spain was documented in the province of Alicante. It happened in Elche on October 16, 2018, where one of these insects bit a child.

Last August in Torrevieja, a woman received two bites when she left a swimming pool and went to dry herself with a towel, and also in the same month another bite from a 78-year-old man who was in the shower at his home was documented. . And last March, in Santa Pola, an 8-month-old baby presented a picture of four bites.

In addition, in the Valencian Community there are references of bites in areas of citrus crops.

The study, published in early April 2021, collects nine cases of bites by The zeal rinardii in Spain since 2018 and almost all of them have been produced in the Valencian Community, although there is one in Cádiz and two in Alcalá de Henares.

The authors consider that Zelus renardii “could become a species that causes notable discomfort to people in urban areas in Spain.”

It hibernates as an adult, so “it is not uncommon to find it inside buildings in winter,” so it can have “much more contact with people and end up causing more bites than other” native insects of the same family.

Of course, in the documentation of these cases carried out by Pujol, Pradera and Miralles-Núñez, it is highlighted that “it has not been recorded that it can act as a vector of pathogens that cause some type of disease in humans.”

That does not exempt from the strong pain caused by their pecks, a problem that seems to increase: “In the coming years we will see the expansion of this species in Spain”, says the report, which appeals to the importance of citizen science platforms to help provide data on their evolution in the national territory.

Reference article:

It may interest you: The killer wasp spreads across Spain at high speed

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