Stings by bees, wasps, hornets, and ants usually cause pain, redness, swelling, and itching.
Allergic reactions are uncommon but may be serious.
Stingers should be removed, and a cream or ointment can help relieve symptoms.
Stings by bees, wasps, and hornets are common throughout the United States. Some ants also sting. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings for each pound of body weight. This means that the average adult could withstand more than 1,000 stings, whereas 500 stings could kill a child. However, in a person who is allergic to such stings, one sting can cause death due to an anaphylactic reaction (a life-threatening allergic reaction in which blood pressure falls and the airway closes).
In the United States, 3 or 4 times more people die from bee stings than from snakebites. A more aggressive type of honeybee, called the Africanized honeybee (killer bee), has reached the southern and some southwestern states from South America. By attacking their victim in swarms, these bees cause a more severe reaction than do other bees.
In the South, particularly in the Gulf region, fire ants sting up to 40% of the people who live in infested areas each year, causing at least 30 deaths.