Do Wasps Bite?

Wasps are known for venomous stings and defensive behavior.  The majority of wasps are predators, and their mandibles are used to eat other insects.  While it is common knowledge that wasps use their stingers when approached by humans, it is less well known that wasps sometimes bite people when threatened.  In fact, aerial nesters including yellowjackets are known to simultaneously bite and sting when defending their territory.  Aerial nesters are some of the most aggressive wasps, and they actively defend their nests.  A wasp bite is similar to a fleabite, in the sense that it is a small puncture wound that is raised and appears red.

The biggest difference between a wasp sting and a wasp bite is that the bite does not have a stinger lodged in it that needs to be removed.  Wasp bites deliver less venom than wasp stings, but should still be treated medically if the person has an allergic reaction.  Wasp bites contain bacteria, and should be washed and disinfected to prevent secondary infection.  A bite from a wasp is often itchy and swollen.

If bitten by a wasp, clean and disinfect the area immediately.  Ice or ibuprofen can be used to reduce swelling.  If itchiness occurs, an antihistamine may be used to reduce discomfort.  Monitor the area carefully.  Seek medical attention if the swelling continues to increase, secondary infection sets in, or the patient experiences difficulty breathing.  If bitten by a wasp, leave the area to distance yourself from a possible nest nearby.