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Insect Bites and Stings

The European wasp - a stinger

Insect bites and stings happen fairly frequently. From the bites of mosquitoes and fleas to the stings of wasps and honeybees, insects can make our lives more uncomfortable, and in the case of people who are allergic, they can be extremely dangerous. Spider bites can be life-threatening if they were from a black widow or a brown recluse. Some insects are venomous, like the two spiders mentioned. Wasps and their ilk are also venomous. The venom is toxic and painful. These insects bite or sting to tell you to leave them alone. Non-venomous insects usually feed on blood, so they will inject some anti-coagulant saliva into the bite to keep the blood flowing. These bites may itch and swell, but they are not venomous, nor do they cause anaphylactic shock. This reaction only happens with venom. While it is impossible to remove insects from our environment, there are things we can do to make living with them a little less dangerous and uncomfortable.


Symptoms vary depending on the individual insect, but may include some of the following: a bite, sting or wound; rash; difficulty breathing; localized pain; redness, swelling or itching; burning, numbness or tingling; wheezing or coughing; nausea or vomiting and headache. If you know you have severe reactions to insect bites or stings, be prepared so you can seek help. Allergic reactions may be immediate or delayed, so keep an eye out for symptoms of anaphylactic shock.


Stings can come from bees; wasps and hornets; and scorpions. Biting insects include ants such as fire ants and harvester ants; spiders; mosquitoes, flies; fleas; ticks; mites such as scabies and chiggers; centipedes; some caterpillars; lice; and bugs like bed bugs.


Some people have severe allergic reactions to bites and stings and can go into anaphylactic shock. They need to be injected immediately with an epi-pen and they should get immediate medical attention.

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