Stinging Insects

The Insects

There are a great number of insects which sting and bite and it is important to note the difference:

  • Stinging insects (eg wasps and bees) inject venom into the victim (injectors!) – insofar as humans are concerned the great majority of stings are defensive
  • Biting Insects ( eg mosquitoes, nits, fleas, horseflies) suck juices from the victim in order to feed and extract nutrients.

This website is focused primarily on stinging insects because it is these insects which typically cause more allergic problems for human beings – not surprising as the allergen is deliberatly introducted into the victims body tissues.


These two families are Wasps and Bees and there is further information available on our Wasps and Bees area.

Insofar as stings are concerned, the great majority of sting damage is effected by three main types of wasp:

  • the paper wasp (Polistes)- the least aggressive of all the wasps generally more red/brown than yellow and black stripes and more often found in the rural location
  • Yellow jacketthe yellowjacket (Vespula) – the classic wasp with yellow and black stripes is aggressive and widely distribted in both town and country
  • the hornet (Vespa Crabro) which in the US is referred to as a Giant Hornet and is a bigger and yellower version of the yellowjacketBees (Apis) – there are two main types of bee:Hornet
    • European Honey Bee and the Africanised US version (Apis Mellifera)
    • Bumblebee (Xylocopa)

    All of the above wasps and bees can swarm (they are termed “social”) and an attack of more than two creatures (particularly wasps which can sting more than once) can prove dangerous for even the non-allergic. The main danger is that if the sting is effected near the airways ie face or throat, the severe swelling which can arise from more than one sting can block the airways and impede breathing.

    Insofar as allergic victims are concerned, one sting or less from any of the above can prove life-threatening for the sensitive individual.