The main reason that wasps bite is to defend themselves against a threat.
If you get stung by a wasp, it is that at one time or another, she felt threatened or frightened. Wasps also use their stings to hunt small insects they feed on.
There are two main reasons behind a wasp sting.
- Protection: like most animals, if a wasp feels threatened or attacked, it will defend its nest with the only defense available to it: its stinger!
- Agitation: Wasps are relatively close to humans in a way, they can be annoyed and act accordingly. The constant flow of hands and newspapers with the intention of crushing them unceremoniously can annoy the wasps and incite them to attack.
Do wasps die after biting?
Fly like a butterfly, bite like a bee … Don’t you mean, fly like a butterfly and bite like a wasp?
Although the famous quote from Mohamed Ali is correct regarding the ability of bees to inflict a painful sting, wouldn’t it make more sense by replacing the bee with the wasp?
And why this ? Well, unlike bees, wasps don’t die after biting a person. In reality, they can bite several times throughout their life. This is the reason why wasps can be so deadly, especially for allergy sufferers.
Why don’t wasps die after a bite?
The answer to this question hides behind an anatomical specificity very particular to wasps and which differentiate them from bees, the shape of their stings.
A bee sting is not smooth but bristling with spurs that get stuck in the victim’s skin. When they try to leave, the stinger remains hooked with part of the abdomen, which leads to their death.
Regarding wasps, the scenario is different. Their sting is smooth, which allows them to sting several times in the risk of getting stuck in their victim.
When you think about it, the metaphorical choice of the bee is not really adapted. This suggests placing only one stroke. However, using the phrase “Fly like the butterfly, bite like the wasp” gives a much more incisive connotation, suggesting a slew of powerful blows.
Male wasps do not bite
It is a fact ! In the wasp, only the females are able to bite. And it’s not because the males don’t want it, they just can’t. Why ? Simply because only females have a stinger. Males are completely devoid of it.
As with most males in the insect world, the only role of male wasps is reproduction, although in some cases they also pollinate.
Schmidt’s pain index
When we talk about “wasp sting”, we have to mention the Schmidt Pain Index. For the uninitiated, this index is a pain scale established following various insect bites, not just wasps, inflicted on a human.
The Schmidt Pain Index, named after its creator, Justin .O. Schmidt , was created after Mr. Schmidt was deliberately inflicted different bites by different insects. The objective of this experiment was to assess the level of pain of a given bite as well as its description and duration.
The common wasp
- Schmidt index: 2.0
- Duration of pain: 10 minutes
- Description: hot and steaming, almost irreverent, imagine a cigar being crushed on your tongue.
The political wasp
- Schmidt index: 3.0
- Duration of pain 5-10 minutes
- Description: caustic and burning. A bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a piece of paper.
The Pepsis wasp
- Schmidt index: 4.0
- Duration of pain: 5 minutes
- Description: blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. Like a hair dryer that you would have put in your bubble bath (if you are bitten by one, I advise you to lie down and scream).
Why are wasp stings painful?
The pain you feel after a wasp sting comes from the venom injected by the stinger. Each person reacts differently. If you react in a certain way following a first bite, you may very well react in a different way the next time.
The wasp venom has two uses:
It is an offensive weapon: the wasp’s venom is powerful enough to paralyze an insect prey, which makes it easier to transport to the nest.
It is a defensive weapon: the bite of the wasp is painful enough to convince large animals and humans to leave them alone.
When someone says they are allergic to bees, hornets and wasps, the insect itself is not the cause of the allergy, it is the venom delivered at each bite.
To contradict urban legends, deaths from a wasp sting are extremely rare – around 2 to 5 cases per year – and generally cause more harm to the elderly. Most of the time, people who have been bitten and who face an allergic reaction survive. Often without any medical treatment.
How to treat a wasp sting ?
Mild to moderate reactions to a wasp sting can be treated easily and simply from your home. I recommend the following steps:
Clean the wound: with soap and water to remove as much venom as possible. You can also use medical disinfectant.
Use ice cubes: to limit swelling of the wound. Depending on the person’s reaction, place a bag of ice cubes for 10 minutes every hour on the wound.
Take an analgesic: to help you control the pain, take a tablet of ibuprofen or paracetamol to make it more bearable.
Antihistamines: In a moderate reaction to a wasp sting, antihistamines like diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine can be very helpful.