But aren’t both insects? Yes, of course, they are insects. But each has a different method of attack and defence. Insects of different sizes, shapes, and feeding and defence mechanism are everywhere. They form the largest percentage of the world’s organisms. They make up about 80 percent of the known species of animals!
But, why do insects bite?
Most of the time, it is a self-defence mechanism of the insects, when they sense any kind of danger. At other times, insects bite, so that they can feed or suck on the blood, in order to stay alive. Insects like mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are known to suck blood when they bite, resulting in a lot of itching.
What happens when a mosquito bites?
You notice that a mosquito has bitten you only after you feel an itchy sensation on the skin. By that time, the mosquito would have already done its job and disappeared from the scene! When a mosquito bites, the proboscis or the needle-like mouth part probes your skin to look for blood vessels. It injects its saliva which numbs the small area of the skin. This also acts as an anticoagulant, meaning that it prevents the blood from clotting and the mosquito can feast on the blood for more time. Our bodies have a good immune response to the saliva of the mosquito. After all, it is a foreign substance. This results in our body producing histamines, which makes the area surrounding the mosquito bite to itch and cause small red bumps on the skin. Most of the times, itching may not start immediately.
Why do bees sting?
Bees have to defend their space, their hives. If bees perceive a threat to their home, then they sting. These bee stings cause a lot of pain. Insects that sting have stingers, which they use for defence and predation. In bees, the stingers are attached to a small venom sac. So, when a bee stings, it injects the venom through the stinger. This causes an awful lot of pain, followed by some allergic reactions. It is always advised to remove the bee sting immediately from the body. Bee stings hurt a lot because of the defence mechanism of the venom that has many pain-producing properties. Some of the toxic effects include paralysis of the local nervous system, destruction of blood cells etc. There are a few insects such as the bumblebee and the wasp which can sting multiple times as the stinger does not get detached from the body like in the honey bee.
But, did you know that when a honey bee stings, it not only leaves behind the stinger, it also leaves behind a part of its abdomen, digestive tract, muscles and nerves? This abdominal rupture kills the honey bee. It is only the honey bees that die after stinging. But, there are times when they can survive too. When the skin that the bees sting into is not thick, and if the skin doesn’t hold the barbed end of the stinger, then honeybees can survive after stinging.
In conclusion, insect bites and insect stings are different. They are not to be confused with each other. The allergic reactions are often different too and first aid has to be taken to prevent serious complications.