Venomous insects bite
or sting people as a way to defend themselves. They inject a poison (venom) into a
person through their mouth or stinger, which causes a reaction.
More to Know
Examples of common venomous bites or stings are those from bees, wasps, hornets,
yellowjackets, and fire ants.
When bitten or stung by a venomous insect, a person will feel a sharp pain at the
site, followed by redness and swelling of the area affected. A delayed response
might include hives, painful joints,
fever, and swollen glands.
Some people may have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
to the venom that happens very quickly. It causes swelling in the face, breathing
difficulty, nausea, abdominal pain, an itchy body rash, and loss of blood pressure
and circulation (shock). This is a life-threatening situation and requires immediate
emergency medical attention.
Keep in Mind
Most of the time, venomous bites and stings are just nuisances that can be treated
at home with pain relievers, topical ointments (applied to the skin), and antihistamines.
Bites from more dangerous insects (such as black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders,
and scorpions) are rare but life threatening, and must be treated in an emergency
For people who have known allergic reactions to bites and stings, carrying epinephrine
or some other type of emergency kit with them can be lifesaving.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical