There are numerous insect species that possess venom-secreting glands. The most well known venom-producing insects belong to the orders Lepidoptera, Hemiptera, and Hymenoptera. Both Hymenoptera (bees and wasps) and Hemiptera (stylets) deliver their venoms actively. When it comes to Hemiptera, venom is obviously delivered by their stingers. Hemiptera species deliver their venoms with their mouthparts. However, lepidopteran larvae, such as caterpillars, deliver their venom passively by detaching their modified setae into their victims skin. Many scientists also stress that the orders known as Diptera, Neuroptera, and Coleoptera are largely venomous. However, it is important to define the term “venom”. For example, many insect species do not produce venom, but instead produce corrosive digestive fluids. Surprisingly, these insects are also considered venomous. In fact, in order to meet the definition of “venom”, the biological activity of venom must be classified as neurotoxic, hemolytic, digestive, hemorrhagic and algogenic (pain producing). There are multiple ways of determining a venom’s relative toxicity, including molecular analyses, DNA research, and of course, the pain produced by a particular venomous insect bite or sting. Researchers have recently conducted a study concerning the most toxic venom in the world, and it seems that a particular type of ant species has won-out. Specifically, the harvester ant possesses the most toxic form of venom.
Hymenopteran insects possess the most toxic types of venom relative to all other insect orders. The Hymenopteran order of insects includes the honey bee, the paper wasp, the yellow jacket, the velvet ant and the dreaded harvester ants. It should be noted that determining the objective toxicity of certain insect venom is not possible, and toxicity results often vary. Comparing the number of fatalities that have resulted from various insect bites and stings will not yield conclusive results concerning the relative dangerousness of different insect venom. This is due to the fact that many people have allergic responses to certain types of insect stings and bites, while others do not. Some people have rare allergies to certain types of venom that may otherwise be considered largely harmless. So if you have been stung by a yellow jacket, and you insist that it was more painful than that time you were bitten by a harvester ant, then nobody is going to argue with you.
Have you ever been stung by any of the insects mentioned in this article?
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