Insects

One of the most diverse groups of animals, with over one million species,  are the insects.  Certain insects are being considered as pests because they feed on fruit and vegetables and damage them. More serious is the fact that some insects need blood and therefore act as vectors for transmitting diseases. Ticks, chiggers and leeches, which do not belong to the insect class, also spread diseases by feeding on blood. Do you know the difference between a sting and a bite?

A sting is a defense mechanism of an insect and a poisonous attack. Stinging insects do not feed on your blood but they inject a toxic venom through their stings. Mostly the venom causes a very painful but not dangerous local reaction, with red swelling around the sting site. With allergic or sensitive persons, the venom can cause a red and swollen, sometimes life threatening reaction over the entire body. Stinging insects are bees, wasps, hornets and ants.

Female insects need supplementary nutrients like protein and iron to lay their eggs and therefore feed on blood. This means an insect bite doesn’t inject venom in your body, in contrast to a sting. The insects’ spit that remains in your body after blood feeding causes the itchy feeling of the bite. Allergic reactions to this spit are rare, so in that aspect bites aren’t dangerous.  More dangerous is the fact that insects can carry and transmit diseases like malaria, yellow fever or dengue. This occurs when the insect has bitten an infected person or animal in the past. Biting insects are mosquitoes, flies, midges, fleas, lice, bugs, ticks, chiggers, leeches, etc.