No matter what bites you

Ouch. It seems that the pleasure of walking through a living olive grove is not the only thing we’re taking home with us. A sharp pain and a red spot starting to swell might seem concerning, but don’t worry, we’re not in Australia. The rich biodiversity of the olive grove includes, of course, species that might bite us (something quite rare and that only happens if these creatures, like insects and other arthropods, are disturbed). However, while their venom can be lethal to other species, for humans it only causes an unwelcome pain.

The tiger spider is one of the most striking arachnids on the peninsula and is a natural predator. It immobilizes its prey with its paralyzing venom and wraps them in its fine silk, storing them for when it gets hungry. They inhabit areas with abundant vegetation and serve as excellent pest controllers, especially for flying insects. Additionally, they also provide food for vertebrates such as birds.

Tiger spider | Argiope bruennichi

The centipede is one of the largest myriapods that can be seen in the olive grove. Reddish-brown or light brown in color with orange legs, this species has venomous glands in its maxillipeds. They are found under stones or fallen logs in agricultural fields, grasslands, or dehesas. Being essentially carnivorous, their main prey includes crickets, moths, and even small mice and spiders. Additionally, they are a bioindicator of the health of the olive grove and its soil, as their presence signifies that the crop has a diversity of species to feed on.

Centipede | Scolopendra cingulata

In the olive grove, numerous different genera of bees and wasps can be found. In this case, we will talk about Dasyscolia ciliata. This solitary wasp is quite common on the peninsula and reproduces by parasitizing the larvae of other insects. But the most curious thing about this wasp is that it is the only species that pollinates the orchid Ophrys speculum, the Mirror Orchid. This flower mimics the shape and pheromones of the female, producing a sexual deception for the male, which tries to mate with it, thereby spreading the pollen from one orchid to another. The presence of these wasps and this species of orchid in the olive grove also speaks to the health of the agroecosystem and the absence of chemical products.

Wasp | Dasyscolia ciliata

Therefore, although many insects and arthropods we find in the field have the ability to sting, something they only do if they feel truly threatened, they play a very important role in the ecological balance of the olive grove. We just need to be a bit cautious.



La Sociedad Española de Ornitología es la entidad conservacionista decana de España. Desde 1954, sigue teniendo como misión conservar la biodiversidad, con la participación e implicación de la sociedad, siempre con las aves como bandera.

SEO/BirdLife es la representante en España de BirdLife International, una federación que agrupa a las asociaciones dedicadas a la conservación de las aves y sus hábitats en todo el mundo, con representación en más de 100 países y más de 13 millones de socios.

Es el socio coordinador del LIFE Olivares Vivos+.