Insects and Their Bites
The majority of insects will defend themselves if they feel threatened. This is fairly amazing when you think about how small insects are compared to the mammalian interloper. Most insects will only atttack if you roam into their territory. There are also insects that need to drink blood but they actively seek their prey. This sort includes insects such as mosquitoes and fleas.
Ants make up the biggest segment of biters. All ants will attempt to bite if they feel the need, but most black ants simply do not possessbig enough mandibles (or jaws) to get a grasp. The big exception in all ant and ant-like varieties are the soldiers, which have colossal mandibles compared to the workers.
Red ants can bite with or without poison and some sting too. Formic acid is their usual chemical weapon. Some ants inject it, which is what we feel if we are bitten by red ants, but other ants spray it into the eyes of its aggressors.
The most agonizing sting of any insect is delivered by the Bullet Ant of Central and South America. The Bullet Ant's sting has the highest rating possible on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. The scale goes from zero to four; zero being painless (to humans) through two for bees and wasps to four for excruciating pain.
The Fire Ant, which is famous for its painful bite ranks a 1.2 on this scale, but level 1.8 is likened to having a staple fired into your cheek. The European honey bee is on level two and the Red Harvester Ant is on level three.
Some bites and stings are not so high on the scale but can still be deadly. The Jack Jumper Ant is in this category and individuals, particularly hypersensitives, have been known to die from Fire Ant stings, which inject piperidine alkaloids rather than formic acid.
The mandibles of the Trap Jaw Ant are the fastest closing jaws in the animal kingdom. They have been clocked at 230 KPH (143 MPH). Another curious ant defence is carried out by a 1
Malaysian species: it ejects its stomach over its aggressor. The stomach acids contain acetophones which completely immobilize insects. Unfortunately, the soldier dies becauseits stomach has been ripped out.
Bees,ants and wasps are all related in the order called Hymenoptera. Beesand wasps just sting although some wasps do have substantial jaws as well. One definition of a wasp is 'any insect of the order Hymenoptera that is neither a bee nor an ant' (Wikipedia).
Not all wasps are black and yellow. There are not a lot of insects that do not have a type of wasp preying on it, which makes them very important in the biocontrol of destructive insects. A lot of wasps do not sting their prey to kill it for food, they sting it to paralyze it.
While paralyzed, the wasp lays her eggs in the prey, which becomesfresh food for her young when they hatch out. This is usually the only time when a wasp eats flesh in its whole life, becauseadult wasps feed on nectar and honey like bees.
When a bee stings it releasespheromones which encourage other beesclose by to sting too. The most aggressive stingers though are vespid wasps (common black and yellow wasps).
Fleas, ticks and bed bugs, unlike mosquitoes, really feed on blood, that is they use it for food, whereas the mosquito needs it as the 'white' of her eggs. There have been times in our history when losing a couple of drops of blood to a flea was not the worst thing about being bitten by them. They also carried the Plague, which wiped out a large percentage of the population of Europe a number of times.
Spiders and scorpions make up the causesof the majority of insect bites but they are comparatively rare.
Owen Jones,the author of this piece writes on a number of subjects, but is currently concerned with finding a home remedy for mosquito bites. If you want to know more, pleasego to our website at Getting Rid of Mosquito Bites.