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Do you have a sting and do they leave it in the wound after a bite?

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Do wasps have a sting, like bees, and if so, why don't they leave it in the skin when they bite? Let's understand ...

In fact, the answer to the question of whether a wasp has a sting is not as obvious as it might seem at first glance. It would seem that if wasps can sting, it means they must have a sting, right? So, not quite so ...

The situation is as follows: each female has a sting, but it is absent in males. Considering that most of the so-called paper wasp specimens are just females, we can say that almost all the wasps that you meet in your summer cottage, balcony or attic of your house have a sting.

Virtually all the wasps you see have a sting, since they are females.

The sting of this insect is the main instrument of defense against enemies and attacks on a large victim. However, many adult wasps are vegans and use the sting only for the purpose of obtaining food for their larvae, or for self-defense and collective defense of the nest.

Paper wasps habitual to us use their sting quite seldom, mainly doing it while hunting with their powerful jaws.

Interestingly, in the overwhelming majority of cases, when hunting, public wasps try to save poison, and they kill their victims with powerful jaws. The wasp does not have teeth, but its well-developed jaws do an excellent job of gnawing through even the very dense chitinous covers of other insects.

Unlike public relatives, single species of wasps (for example, Scoli) get food for their offspring almost always with the help of a sting.

But the single wasps, to which Scolia belongs, kill their victims with a sting.

The photo shows a wasp-scolium close-up.

Despite such differences in the use of this body, it is almost the same for all wasps. As for the difference in the effects of stinging different types of wasps - it can be very, very significant, and is explained by differences in the composition of insect venoms.


Detailed anatomy: wasp sting under a microscope

The sting of a wasp is a long, durable, pointed organ connected to a poisonous gland and having a duct inside, through which venom from the gland is injected into the body of the victim.

The photo below shows the sting of the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris):

The photo shows the sting of an ordinary wasp.

And here you can see what the sting of a hornet looks like (Vespa crabro):

Hornet sting

The sting is in the back of the abdomen. For most wasps, in a calm state, it is drawn inward, and when it is bitten, it is excreted due to contractions of special muscles.

Looking at the wasp's sting under a microscope, you can see that it has smooth walls and is translucent, but when viewed with the naked eye, this organ appears dark brown:

In contrast to the bee sting, wasp has almost smooth walls.

Interestingly, it is precisely because of its smoothness that the sting of a wasp differs significantly from the sting of a bee: the latter has numerous notches on this organ. It is because of the presence of such chipping a bee sting firmly held on the skin of the victim, like a harpoon. Being unable to reach it, the bee flies away with the internal organs partially torn out and subsequently quickly dies:

The bee sting usually remains in the skin of the victim, coming off with part of the internal organs of the insect.

An example of a bee sting coming off a part of an insect's body.

The photo below shows what a bee sting looks like under a microscope:

The photo clearly shows that the sting of a bee, unlike wasp, has large notches.

Constructively, the wasp's sting consists of two elongated stylets - it is they who pierce the integuments of the victim's body. From the abdomen of the insect they are advanced in special formations called sleds. These skids, in turn, at the rear end of the wasp's body are covered with several plates. When the wasp stings, the plates are moved apart, the sled slides out a little from the abdomen, and the stilettos slide along them.

The video clearly shows the wasp pushing the sting out of its abdomen:

The poison during sting flows from the channel between the stylets and the sled.There is no such channel in the stylets themselves, and if the wasp does not manage to enter the sting to a sufficient depth, the poison does not enter the body of the victim.

The photo shows what the wasp's sting looks like at the moment of partial protrusion from the abdomen:

At the moment of danger, the wasp reflexively puts forth its sting, trying to plunge it into the enemy.

It is interesting

The sting of a wasp is a modified ovipositor that evolved into a formidable weapon. There is a similar ovipositor, for example, in grasshoppers and locusts (popularly called the sword because of its characteristic shape), as well as in some other insects. But if, in the same locust, the egg-blade performs its direct functions and serves to remove eggs from the body of a female, then in the course of evolution it was supplemented with a poisonous gland, became harder and stronger, and insects use it for hunting and protection.

Riders - close relatives of the wasps - are a kind of transitional group in this regard. Their ovipositor is not drawn into the body and can be very long. With it, the insect pierces the integument of the victim and inserts its eggs into its tissue. Some riders can painfully sting a person: in this way, their egg-laying also performs both functions - protection and reproduction.

But the males have no stings. Given that the predecessor of this organ, the egg-deposit, is the prerogative of only females, it becomes clear why males are deprived of their sting.

The forerunner of the sting is egg-laying, so the male wasp does not have it.

However, in nature it is very difficult to outwardly distinguish male paper wasps from females, and it is usually not possible to guess which insect can sting and which one does not. Moreover, in ordinary social wasps, males are extremely small, appear only at the end of summer or early autumn and live only two or three weeks. So most of the wasps encountered are just females that have a sting.

On a note

Each wasp has only one sting. Theoretically, the loss of this organ alone is not lethal to the insect. However, in real conditions, it does not lose it, since the smooth walls of the sting make it easy to take it out of the victim’s body and reuse it.


How does a sting work when wasp attacks

The sting extends from the abdomen of the insect exactly at the moment when the wasp stings. After the attack, the insect can not hide its sting and inflict one or more “blows” on it.

During an attack, a wasp can sting an offender several times in a row ...

Of course, for a successful sting, the integuments of the victim's body must be softer than the sting itself. For this reason, wasps rarely hunt beetles, well protected by solid elytra, but spiders, even very poisonous and dangerous, very skillfully paralyze with their venom:

Road wasp hunts on a spider.

After the poison was introduced into the victim's body, the wasp easily removed the sting and, depending on the situation, either hides it and flies away, or stings it again. Pull out their weapons from the bodies of insects and spiders, as well as from the skin of humans and other warm-blooded animals, the insect can absolutely freely. This is the main difference. wasp sting from a bee sting: a wasp does not leave a sting after a sting.

The wasp freely removes its sting from the body of the victim and does not leave it after the bite.

A row wasp can sting about 4-5 times. At the same time, in one bite, she injects into the body of the victim an average of 0.3-0.4 mg of poison (and large hornets and scoli can inject up to 0.7 mg).


Wasp sting in the skin: is it possible?

Considering that the wasps do not leave a sting in the skin of a bitten person, the situation when their weapons have to be pulled out of the wound is practically excluded.

All cases of stranded and severed sting are related to bee stings. By the presence of this organ in the skin of the victim, it is easy to distinguish the bite of a wasp from the bite of a bee: if there is no sting, it means that a wasp has bitten, and if there is, then a bee. On this basis it is possible to judge with certainty who stung you after all.

If a sting sticks out after an insect bite in the wound, then it was a bee.

Speaking of stinging, it is worth telling about how you can pull a bee's sting out of your skin without causing additional harm to yourself.

There are two main and most used methods:

  1. The safest way to remove a sting is to carefully remove it with a needle, taking into account the next important point. The bee leaves its sting in the wound along with the venomous gland (and part of the intestine), and the walls of the sac with the poison continue to shrink, injecting new portions of toxins under the skin. Therefore, the sooner it turns out to extract the sting, the less pronounced will be the effects of the bite.Bee sting in human skin.
  2. You can also get a sting with tweezers or nails, but this method is much less preferable. The fact is that in this way you will squeeze out an additional amount of bee venom into the wound, both from the sting itself and from the bag connected with it. But if you don’t have a sharp object on hand, you can simply grab the sting with your nails as close as possible to the skin's surface and remove it.The sting left in the skin must be removed as quickly as possible so that new portions of the poison do not enter the wound.

It is impossible to leave a bee sting in the skin - not only because of the addition of additional amounts of poison under the skin, but simply because after some time the wound can fester.

As for wasps and hornets, in general, we can thank them for the fact that they do some of the work on neutralizing the bite themselves, not leaving a sting in the skin and flying away with it.


Different wasps, different stings, different bites

Despite the fact that almost all wasps have a sting, the bites of their different types differ significantly in strength (soreness) and consequences. The difference is determined by the effect of poison on the human body.

For example, the poison of giant Asian hornets is very allergenic and often leads to anaphylactic shock. Multiple bites at once of several such hornets can pose a risk to life, even in people who are not prone to allergies.

Very allergenic is the poison of huge Asian hornets (in the photo).

Scoli, however, in size not inferior to the Hornets, sting, by contrast, very weak. Their venom is designed to paralyze sedentary and harmless prey - the larvae of beetles - and therefore it almost does not cause pain in humans, but only leads to a slight numbness of the tissues.

The bite of large wasps is relatively painless for humans.

Bites of road wasps, many species of which prey on tarantulas and other poisonous spiders, cause a very sharp pain in warm-blooded animals. Due to their pain, bites are among the most powerful insects in the world.

But the bites of road wasps are very painful.

And, for example, among philanthropists known to beekeepers who hunt honey bees, the sting is too thin and it is often not possible to pierce the rough skin on the palms of a person.Therefore, although philanthropists sometimes sting people, beekeepers boldly catch them with their bare hands, without fear of bites.

A philanthropist (aka bee wolf).

It is important to remember that almost always wasps sting a person in self-defense or when defending a nest. Being disturbed, these insects first of all try to fly away, and only when they are in a critical situation (especially if they are crushed), they resort to extreme measures and sting. In addition, if the insects seem to have come too close to their nest, they can collectively attack in order to chase away the potential abuser.

That is why in nature or in the dacha in order not to be stung, it is enough to be attentive, not to make sudden movements in the presence of wasps and hornets and look around. If there was a nest nearby, you should go around it, and if an insect accidentally sits on the body - just brush it away, but in no case slam it. Such accuracy in most cases is quite enough to avoid bites.


Interesting video: a road wasp fights with a spider-tarantula


Remove the bee sting with tweezers (you can see how the bag of poison shrinks)


To the recording "Do they have a sting and do they leave it in the wound after a bite?" 4 comments
  1. Yuri:

    Still, wasps sometimes leave a sting just like bees. In my life there was at least one such case, and 100% it was a wasp, not a bee. Moreover, it seems that insects do not pull the sting out of themselves (for this they simply would not have enough strength), but throw them away with the help of special muscles, just as lizards throw their tails away.

    • Nusia:

      I agree with Yuri, today wasp stung, but left a big sting. Just in the place where I was, a lot of os flies, and did not see the bees.

  2. RU:

    Totally agree. Yesterday, a wasp bitten in nature, found a sting at the bite site at home. In addition, the bees do not fly where the wasps.

  3. Anonymous:

    Urban or what? Bees and wasps can be seen together on cut watermelons, melons or in water tanks. I was stung a hundred times by both wasps and bees — only bees left a sting (I distinguish a wasp from a bee).

    One time, when I, while still a kid, was riding a bicycle with a mound, a wasp jumped in under my shirt. With great, I jumped like a real Cossack, and he rode on. While on the run I took off my shirt, she stung me eight times and did not leave a single sting. I threw the shirt on the asphalt and how can I ride on it, hoping to crush this creature. To my surprise, this c * ki was not there.

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