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August 21, 1972

Insect and Scorpion Sting

Author Affiliations

From the Department of International Health, University of California, San Francisco.

JAMA. 1972;221(8):894-898. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200210038009

Some arthropods of the orders Hymenoptera and Scorpionida inflict medically significant bites. About 20% of Americans are believed to be hypersensitive to venoms of hymenopteran insects (including honeybees, bumblebees, wasps, hornets, and fire ants), which often sting with little provocation. From 1950 through 1959, of 460 deaths due to venomous animals, 50% were caused by stings of Hymenoptera, especially the honeybee, and 1.7% by stings of scorpions.1 One person reportedly died in 1964 from the sting of fire ants.

This article reports recent findings about stings of such arthropods and suggests a rationale for treatment.

Hymenoptera  With rare exceptions, members of this order are social insects that build nests or hives above or under the ground, occasionally in tree stumps or hollows of live trees. Most species, except for the "velvet ants" (mutillid wasps) and true ants, have two pairs of membranous wings. The thorax and abdomen are distinctly