Difference between Bee, Wasp, and Hornet Stings

When you get stung by any flying insect, you would assume that it is either a bee, a wasp, or even a hornet. It can be any of these insects, but did you know that it is possible to identify the insect by your body’s reaction from the sting?

Yes, there is a difference between the stings of these insects. Find out more about the difference of each insect sting from each other below.

Bee Sting

It is rare for honey bees to sting unless they feel threatened or provoked. Since the stingers of bees are barbed in their abdomen, using it will result in their immediate death. Even if it loses its stinger, they also inject a large amount of venom that is approximately 50 micrograms.

Though the venom from every insect is quite different, the effects can be similar. You may experience an allergic reaction to a certain type of sting and no reaction at all from another.

The venom from bees is composed of over 50% melittin. This is a powerful type of toxin that stimulates an enzyme responsible for inflammation. It forces the release of histamine in the body. Thus, producing an allergic reaction similar to hives.

Other reactions can be any of the following:

  • Swelling and bumps
  • Sharp stinging pain
  • Redness around the itchy part
  • Numbness on stung area
  • For children, the side effect can become more serious than adults

Stings also contain hyaluronidase that breaks down barriers between cells, which spreads the venom faster. Once you get stung, make sure that you move away from the area. Bees tend to send signals to others after they sting, so moving away will save you from more stings.

Since the stinger stays in the affected area, it is a must that you remove it right away with a tweezer or scrape it off. Even if the bee flies away after stinging, the stinger will continue injecting the venom. Thus, worsening the reaction in the bitten area.

Taking antihistamines can help relieve the reaction. However, when the reaction is worse than expected, seeking medical attention is advisable.

Wasp Stings

Unlike bees, the stinger of wasps is attached to their bodies. This allows them to attack targets multiple times without dying after. In every attack, a toxic venom goes through the stinger and is transmitted to the body area of the target.

Many people are confused between hornets and wasps. Though hornets are subspecies of wasps, there are particular differences between the two when it comes to looks and activities. These differences will help you identify each one. A common reaction from their stings are the following:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Irritation

Most of the time, these symptoms disappear after a few hours. However, occasional anaphylactic shock may happen for severely allergic people. This condition must be treated immediately.

As compared to bees, wasps are more aggressive and their stings are more painful. It is more painful because of the higher amount of venom injected in the bloodstream. It is also more poisonous.

With wasps, its stinger can inject a maximum of 15 micrograms of venom in every sting. This is why its sting can result in a more serious allergic reaction.

What makes the stung area more painful is that the wasp tends to sting one place several times. Their sting is also deeper. A common reaction is that it will be as uncomfortable as what you’d feel when stung by bees or hornets.

The venoms from wasps contain enzymes responsible for breaking down cell membranes. It also breaks down neurotransmitters such as serotonin and acetylcholine that results to nerves firing. There are also substances triggering histamine release, which produces intense allergy-reactions.

Mild reactions can be treated with antihistamines and home remedies, while intense reaction must be attended to by medical professionals.

Hornet Stings

Being subspecies of wasps, the stings of hornets feel like the same as wasps. The symptoms after you got stung are also the same. Thus, making the treatments needed for the stings similar.

Hornets are as aggressive as wasps when threatened. They are larger than wasps, so you can easily identify them from wasps. When threatened or provoked, they can also sting one target repeatedly.

The common thing with these insects after each sting is that they tend to send signals to their kind. This means that more insects may come after you in case you don’t go away from the area where you got stung.

As mentioned, the symptoms of hornet stings are similar to wasps. It is necessary that you take antihistamines and use first aid treatments to make the symptoms subside. However, all symptoms may disappear hours after. For serious allergic reactions, it is advisable that you get medical attention as soon as possible.