About Insect Stings: The Facts

In North America, there are actually very few types of insects that carry any venom or poison at all and none whose venom is dangerous. It is possible, however, for an insect sting to cause an allergic reaction that can range from a mild local reaction to something like a severe asthma attack. In extreme allergic reactions, the airways can close up and you can even stop breathing. The insect responsible for the largest number of severe allergic reactions is the called the yellow jacket.

It's also possible to be killed by multiple stings. The creature or bug most likely to do this is the notorious infamous Africanized killer bee, which has spread in recent years from Mexico to parts of the southern United States. Contrary to popular belief, this bee is no more poisonous than native varieties, but swarms are highly aggressive and can inflict dozens or hundreds of stings in only a few seconds. A human being can tolerate about 10 wasp or bee stings per pound of body weight and still survive, meaning it usually takes over 1000 stings to seriously harm a healthy adult. This sometimes happens, and between multiple stings and allergic reactions to single stings, insects actually harm or even kill (in rare cases) more than three times as many North Americans as snakes do.

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