Common Stinging Insects

There are a variety of different stinging insects that produce venom and may cause an allergic reaction.  It is not uncommon for one to be allergic to more than one species of hymenoptera, but due to the fact that the chemical composition of the venom produced by these insects is different, one may be allergic to only one of the following, and not to others. If one has had an allergic to a stinging insect, he or she should be tested to all stinging insects by a board certified allergist in order to determine the risk of a future reaction and to consider treatment for this potentially dangerous allergy.

Bumble Bee AllergyHornet AllergyHoney Bee AllergyYellow Jacket AllergyFire Ants


Hornets, including yellow and white-faced hornets, build paper-mache type nests in trees and shrubs. These insects may be very aggressive, and a sting may be provoked by a minor disruption in their environment. Some hornets look very much like yellow jackets and can be difficult to distinguish.

Honey Bee

Honey bees are only capable of stinging a person once. The honey bee is the only stinging insect that leaves its stinger and venom sac in the skin of its victim, due to the barbed configuration of the stinger. As the honey bee flies away, it become eviscerated and dies.

Yellow Jacket

Yellow jackets are wasp-like insects that live in mounds built into the ground, They tend to be very aggressive insects, and will often sting without provocation. They are commonly found around garbage cans and picnic areas where food and sugary drinks are abundant.


Wasps build honey-comb nests under the eaves of a house, or in a tree, shrub or under patio furniture. They tend to be less aggressive than yellow jackets and hornets, and mostly feed on insects and flower nectar.


Bumblebees rarely sting people because they are non-aggressive and typically mild mannered. They generally will sting only if provoked. They nest in the ground or in piles of grass clippings or wood.

Fire Ant

Fire Ant bites are generally quite painful. It is not unusual to sustain multiple bites, generally on the feet and hands. The bite of a fire ant characteristically will form into a white pustule within a day or two.  Scratching these pustules can lead to local infection and scars.

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