Bites and Stings
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Insects when feel threatened tend to defend themselves naturally by biting or stinging what they perceive to be their potential enemy. When they do so, they inject formic acid. This causes a skin reaction resulting in swelling or red lesions in and around the injured area of the skin. Such stings or bites are often painful and tend to cause reactions that are allergic which could be dangerous.

Hornets, wasps, bees and fire ants stings and bites could be the most painful. A wasp is capable of both stinging and biting simultaneously. The stingers in the skin should be carefully removed by either using either a finger nail. Relief can also be sought by removing these stingers with the aid of the sharp edge of a credit card. To neutralize the effect of the formic acid a paste of baking soda is applied. It takes up to 20 minutes for this to take effect.

Causes of Bites and Stings

Bess stings are caused by sweat bee, honey bee or bumblebee. It is imperative that one should be able to distinguish between a sting and a bite. Also one should know the toxin that is injected in the skin when there is a sting. Each species use specific venom for defence. Knowledge of the effect of this venom is essential to counter its effect. Bald faced hornets and wasps produce the most aggressive results when they sting or bite.

While honeybees have developed a sting which can target mammals the wasps have not. Some people are extremely allergic to stings and it could result in anaphylactic effect that could be not only dangerous but also prove fatal.

It is a misconception that a honey bee stings only once in their lifetime. What actually happens is that when they sting they life their stinger in the skin of the victim. This stinger is torn loose from the abdomen of the bee resulting in the bee dying in minutes after stinging. But this happens only when the bee targets a mammal or a bird.
These stingers are barbed.

The stinger injects the venom apitoxin into the skin of the victim. When this is done there is also a release of alarm pheromones especially when the stinging bee is injured and about to die. The alarm pheromones thus released tend to draw the attention of the other bees in the hive and they then become aggressive. Unfortunately these pheromones cannot be got rid of by washing off with water and so the victim is in constant danger of attack by the rest of the swarming bees.

The drone bees which are the larger bees in the hive do not possess the stinger. Ovipositor is modified to form the stinger in the worker bees. When it comes to the Queen Bee in the give, she bears a stinger that is smooth. She is capable of stinging the victim many times. But the Queen Bee uses this only as a defence mechanism over other queens that she perceives to be her rival. Under normal conditions the Queen Bee remains within the hive and does not move away from it.

Symptom of Bites and Stings

Bites and Stings are often associated with intense pain. Red ness and swelling are other major symptoms which are associated with bites and stings.

Treatment for Bites and Stings

The first thing to do is to remove the stinger as quickly as possible as the longer the delay the more the chances of the venom infusing into the body of the victim. Ice should be applied to reduce the swelling in the affected area. Traditional remedies among others include applying pastes of toothpaste, aspirin or tobacco.

To neutralize the effect of the sting – which injects acids in the body, it is recommended that an alkali paste be applied to the affected area. The toxin injected is extremely less – only about 5 to 50 micrograms. Therefore applying a large amount of alkali to that area will not produce dramatic efforts to neutralize the acid.


It is best to stay away from insects which might harm you with the bites and stings. However if by chance such an accident occurs one must immediately take preventive measures to mitigate the intense pain which is often associated with bites and stings.

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