Abstract Data obtained by a Spanish national surveillance programme in 2005 were used to develop climatic models for predictions of the distribution of the bluetongue virus (BTV) vectors Culicoides imicola Kieffer (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) and the Culicoides obsoletus group Meigen throughout the Iberian peninsula. Models were generated using logistic regression to predict the probability of species occurrence at an 8-km spatial resolution. Predictor variables included the annual mean values and seasonalities of a remotely sensed normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), a sun index, interpolated precipitation and temperature. Using an information-theoretic paradigm based on Akaike’s criterion, a set of best models accounting for 95% of model selection certainty were selected and used to generate an average predictive model for each vector. The predictive performances (i.e. the discrimination capacity and calibration) of the average models were evaluated by both internal and external validation. External validation was achieved by comparing average model predictions with surveillance programme data obtained in 2004 and 2006. The discriminatory capacity of both models was found to be reasonably high. The estimated areas under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC) were 0.78 and 0.70 for the C. imicola and C. obsoletus group models, respectively, in external validation, and 0.81 and 0.75, respectively, in internal validation. The predictions of both models were in close agreement with the observed distribution patterns of both vectors. Both models, however, showed a systematic bias in their predicted probability of occurrence: observed occurrence was systematically overestimated for C. imicola and underestimated for the C. obsoletus group. Average models were used to determine the areas of spatial coincidence of the two vectors. Although their spatial distributions were highly complementary, areas of spatial coincidence were identified, mainly in Portugal and in the southwest of peninsular Spain. In a hypothetical scenario in which both Culicoides members had similar vectorial capacity for a BTV strain, these areas should be considered of special epidemiological concern because any epizootic event could be intensified by consecutive vector activity developed for both species during the year; consequently, the probability of BTV spreading to remaining areas occupied by both vectors might also be higher.