Being stung by a wasp or a bee is one of the most common fears when it comes to our relationship with wildlife. It’s general knowledge that bees die after stinging, which is why many people ask do wasps die after they sting you.
Read on to learn all about wasp stings, how painful they are, what’s the difference between them and bee stings, what to do if you’ve been stung, and how to prevent them.
What Happens When a Wasp Stings You
When a wasp stings you, it releases venom into your body. Unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times and they won’t die after stinging you. For most people the venom is rarely life-threatening – you either have to be allergic to it or stung by a great number of wasps to be in serious danger.
The purpose of the venom is to scare you and convince you that the wasp sees you as a threat. It does this by causing great pain. In a way, it blows a lot of smoke, but there’s usually no fire.
Makes sense really when you understand that a wasp’s job is to protect its home, and it will only sting you if it feels threatened. Wasps don’t go out looking for people to sting.
Differences Between Wasp and Bee Stings
Let’s get straight to the point – wasp stings are usually more painful than bee stings – I’ll explain more about pain specifics later, but most bee species don’t cause as much pain.
The most obvious difference is that wasps can sting multiple times, while bees can (usually) sting only once. In some cases, a bee can sting an animal without the stinger tearing the bee’s abdomen off (which usually happens with non-mammals).
It’s also noted that wasps are more aggressive than bees! Bees sting exclusively if you disturb them, while wasps can sting if you get too close.
Can Wasps Sting and Bite
Believe it or not, wasps can bite a person, but this is secondary to stinging. The stinger is a very powerful tool, and a wasp will start biting only if it’s very desperate.
When a wasp bites you, it leaves some bacteria at the spot of the bite, which makes disinfection necessary! Bites aren’t as nearly as painful as stings, though.
Why Do Wasps Sting
A wasp’s sting isn’t only used as a method of defense, but it’s also utilized as a predatory practice in certain species. Some wasps will sting prey to subdue it and then lay their eggs in the prey.
Venom can cause paralysis in very small species (usually insects).
This isn’t what happens when a wasp stings a person, though. Wasps usually sting people in self-defense! People either come too close to a nest or react aggressively to a curious wasp.
Just like all animals, a wasp will buzz around a person or walk on them to detect precisely what that person is. People can overreact and try to swat the insect away, which results in a string.
Some wasp species, especially aerial nesters, are extremely aggressive if you approach them. You don’t even have to physically disturb their home; you can simply get too close, and they’ll attack you.
Therefore, I always recommend that an expert is called if wasps form a nest in your home.
What Does a Wasp Sting Look and Feel Like
A wasp sting is impossible to ignore! On the outside, you’ll likely develop swelling – the size of the swelling depends on the amount of venom released and your tolerance to it.
Allergic people develop swelling much easier than people with no allergy to wasp venom.
The swelling will also become red and hot to the touch.
Wasp Sting Symptoms
The first symptom of the sting is pain. Depending on the species, the pain can range. Minor or weak stings can go unnoticed, with any pain subsiding after just a few minutes.
In more severe cases, the pain can be excruciating and long-lasting. Within a few minutes, swelling can form, and the temperature in the region of the sting will rise too.
Those are the only three symptoms that will appear unless you’re allergic to insect stings.
About 2% of people can suffer an extreme reaction after being stung. This can range from excessive swelling to anaphylactic shock, or in extreme cases – death. For allergic people, it’s crucial to get medical treatment as soon as possible.
After being stung, an allergic person can suffer extreme swelling, rashes, throat, and tongue swelling (both of which can stop breathing), vomiting, dizziness, and loss of consciousness.
If you or anyone you know has been stung by an insect and are experiencing these symptoms – get help immediately.
The Schmidt Pain Index
Aside from wondering do wasps die after they sting, many people wonder how bad it hurts to be stung. This index is a simplification of pain caused by insect stings. There are four levels to it.
It was created by Justin Schmidt, an entomologist who tested the insect bites on himself!
The first level is occupied by the least-painful stings and bites – various ant species, most small bees, and the Western paper wasp (very common in North America).
Level too includes stings from yellowjackets, Asiatic honeybees, and bald-faced hornets. These stings don’t last more than 10 minutes.
The third level is more serious, and they can last for half an hour. These include the stings of the red paper wasp, the red-headed paper wasp, and the giant bull ant.
Lastly, the fourth level is the highest level of pain. It’s simply pure, flaming pain that doesn’t stop. Depending on insect species, pain can last minutes or hours.
The spider wasp, also known as the tarantula hawk, and warrior wasps are both on the fourth-level list.
Treatment for Wasp Stings
According to John Hopkins Medicine, the best thing you can do when you’ve been stung by a wasp is apply a cold pack to the swelling after washing the area with soap and water. The pain will subside on its own with time, and all that remains is to wait.
When it comes to a bee sting, you first have to remove the stinger.
Allergic reactions manifest through several symptoms – throat and tongue swelling, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, etc.
All of these symptoms are reason enough to look for professional help.
You should also seek help if you’ve been stung on the mouth, nose, or throat.
How to Prevent Wasp & Hornet Stings
Simply put – don’t approach them! Wasps and hornets don’t sting people for no good reason. Some of these species are extremely aggressive and they’ll attack anyone that comes close to their nest.
If a colony of wasps or hornets is forming a nest in your home – don’t try to remove it on your own. Avoid it and call for an exterminator – these animals attack in swarms and that can, in extreme cases, lead to an excruciating death.
Do Wasps Die After They Sting You Final Thoughts
No, wasps don’t die after stinging in the same way that bees do. Their stingers won’t rip their bodies apart, which is why a wasp can sting multiple times. When stinging, wasps release venom into the body.
In most cases, this venom is painful, but it’s also too weak to cause any serious damage. Some people, though, are allergic and they can suffer serious medical consequences when stung by a wasp or a bee.
If you’ve been stung and you’re developing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, seek professional help immediately.