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Can a Wasp Sting Kill You?

Last Updated: 16.06.24


Wasps are most definitely not pleasant to have around since you constantly fear they might get aggressive and sting you or your loved ones. Therefore, if you are also looking for ways to get rid of them and for reviews of wasp traps, you can find out more info here on this topic.

On the other hand, you might also need to know a bit more about wasps stings and their effects, especially if you’ve recently noticed a nest close to your home. In the the following lines, we will take a look at some useful information on what drives these insects to become aggressive, as well as on what measures you can take to protect yourself.


Is a wasp sting so dangerous?

Before going into details about these insects, let’s first address this question which might be on the mind of many people. While definitely not a happy experience, wasp stings are most of the times not life-threatening. In fact, there is a rather small number of such cases annually, compared to the country’s overall population.

Recent studies show that each year between 2008 and 2015, there were 1.4 fatalities per 10 million persons attributed to wasps stings, across the United States. Moreover, sensitive individuals are usually affected, such as seniors or those who have allergies. The latter are particularly exposed since the effects of anaphylactic shocks are hard to foresee.

Other factors count as well, such as accessibility to proper medication right away, or other health conditions that can worsen the effects of a sting. Another situation where wasps can be deadly is if they feel extremely threatened around their nest and they attack in large numbers.

For this reason, before dealing with any such nest next to your home, make sure that you have all the necessary protective equipment. You can also get an expert’s opinion if you are not sure how to tackle the issue, just to make sure that everything goes well with these otherwise quite unpredictable insects.

Why do they sting?

While it’s true that wasps have been often portrayed as very aggressive and purely evil insects, especially across the media, you should keep in mind that they are animals and that their behavior does have a logical reason, at least from their point of view.

The main cause of wasp attacks is that they feel threatened. The act of stinging is nothing more than a defense mechanism in their interactions with us, although they also use it to catch various preys.

Just like most animals out in the wild, if a wasp female is under the impression that her home is under attack, she will do everything she can to protect it, which means she will start stinging. Another aspect you need to be aware of, especially if you are planning to deal with a nest, is that wasps do, in fact, get annoyed and agitated.

This is, most of the times, the case when an individual waves the arms, or uses a newspaper trying to get rid of a wasp. A combination of being annoyed and feeling threatened as well will most probably lead to someone getting stung.


Wasps do not die after the sting

Unlike bees, wasps have a happier outcome after they sting someone since they get to live. The bad part for us is that they can actually sting more than one person throughout their lifetime, which is one of the reasons they are dangerous, especially if you are allergic to their venom.

The anatomical construction of wasps (compared to that of the poor bees) allows them to easily disengage from a victim. Since bees have stingers that are barbed, this causes them to get lodged within the victim, meaning that once the bee breaks free, the stinger remains within the target’s skin, tearing loose from the insect’s abdomen.

However, in the case of wasps, things are different. With a barbless stinger, they can easily get away without leaving anything stuck behind within the victim’s skin, which means that they can sting more than once without a problem.

Another interesting aspect worth keeping in mind about wasps is that only females are responsible for stinging. Male wasps might act like they are going to sting out of instinct, but they don’t have a stinger, which means that they are less of an issue if you are trying to deal with a nest.


Their venom

There is a reason why wasp stings are painful, namely the venom they use on their victims. It’s important to know that different people respond in different ways to this venom, so if anyone around you gets stung by a wasp, try to get closer to any kind of medical facility to be able to react quickly in case an anaphylactic shock occurs.

Even in those cases where a person is stung more than once throughout their lifetime, there’s a good chance that the reactions will differ, so don’t rely on past experiences when it comes to these situations.

On the other hand, a wasp’s venom serves two main purposes. Firstly, it’s an offensive weapon these insects use to paralyze their prey, which makes things a lot easier in terms of transporting something back to the nest. Even though it can paralyze living things that are much smaller than a person, don’t underestimate its effects.

Secondly, this venom is a defensive tool that delivers enough pain to large animals, as well as humans, to convince them it’s a good idea to leave the nest alone. Of course, when someone is allergic to wasps, the reaction is actually to their venom.




Let’s face it, there is nothing fun in getting stung by a wasp, so if you do find yourself in this particular situation, there are several things you can do to reduce the effects. The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you should monitor your overall state to assess if you have a mild reaction or a more serious one.

In case what you are dealing with is a moderate one, then the sting can be treated at home by cleaning the area with soap and water in order to remove some of the venom and then applying a disinfectant to prevent potential infections.

What you can also do if you have a burning sensation and notice that the area is swelling is to place an ice pack on it. You should keep it there for about 10 minutes and then, depending on how the situation evolves, you can repeat this once every hour.

Of course, if you notice signs that tell you things are not going in the right way and you might face a more severe reaction, you should call an ambulance or head toward the nearest local emergency room as quickly as possible.

The most serious condition that can develop from such a sting is an anaphylactic shock, and the symptoms include severe swelling of the lips, throat or face, having difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, and weak or racing pulse.

In case you start experiencing any of these signs, then you need to seek medical attention right away since this can quickly get life-threatening.  




1) Wasp Stings Reaction Symptoms

2) Treatment of Bee and Wasp Stings

3) The real truth about wasp stings

4) What should you do if you are allergic to stings?



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