In fact, the answer to the question whether there is a sting of a wasp is not as obvious as it might seem at first glance. It would seem that once a wasp can sting - then they must have a sting, right? So, yeah, not exactly ...
The situation is as follows: every female has a sting, but is absent from males. Considering that most of the individuals of the so-called paper wasps are just females, one can say that almost all the wasps that you meet at the dacha section, balcony or attic of your house have a sting.
The sting of this insect is the main weapon of protection against enemies and attacks on a large victim. Moreover, many wasps in the adult state are strict vegetarians and the sting is used only for the purpose of harvesting food for their larvae, or for self-defense and collective defense of the nest.
It is interesting that in the overwhelming majority of cases when hunting public wasps try to save the poison, and their victims are killed by powerful jaws. There are no teeth in the wasp, but its well-developed jaws cope well with the gnawing of even very dense chitinous covers of other insects.
Unlike social relatives, single species of wasps (for example, scolias) produce food for their offspring almost always with the help of a sting.
Despite such differences in the use of this organ, in all wasps it is arranged almost identically. As for the difference in the consequences of stinging by different species of the species, it can be very, very significant, and is explained by differences in the composition of the poisons of insects.
Detailed anatomy: a wasp sting under a microscope
A wasp sting is a long, strong, pointy organ connected to a poisonous gland and having a duct inside which a poison is introduced from the gland into the body of the victim.
The photo below shows the stump of an ordinary wasp (Vespula vulgaris):
And here you can see what the hornet sting looks like (Vespa crabro):
The sting is in the back of the abdomen. In the majority of wasps, in a calm state, it is drawn inward, and when bitten it is removed due to contractions of special muscles.
Considering the wasp sting under a microscope, you can see that it has smooth walls and is translucent, but when viewed with the naked eye this organ appears dark brown:
It is interesting that it is with its smoothness that the sting of the wasp differs significantly from the sting of the bee: the latter has numerous notches on this organ. It is because of the presence of such notches that the bee sting is firmly held by the skin of the victim, like a harpoon. Being unable to get it, the bee flies away with partially torn internal organs and then quickly dies:
Below in the photo it is shown how the sting of a bee looks under a microscope:
Structurally, the wasp sting represents two elongated stylet - they are the ones that cut through the covers of the body of the victim. From the abdomen of the insect, they are nominated by special formations, called sleds. These sleds, in turn, are closed on the rear end of the body by several plates. When the wasp stings, the plates move apart, the slide slides out slightly from the abdomen, and stilettos are already slid over them.
The video clearly shows how a wasp puts a stinger out of its abdomen:
The photo shows how the wasp sting looks at the moment of partial extension from the abdomen:
It is interesting
Sting of a wasp is a modified ovipositor, evolved into a formidable weapon. A similar ovipositor is found, for example, in grasshoppers and locusts (in the people it is also called a sword because of its characteristic form), as well as some other insects. But if in the same locust the ovipositor fulfills its direct functions and serves to remove eggs from the body of the female, then in the course of evolution it was supplemented with a poisonous gland, became firmer and stronger, and insects use it for hunting and protection.
Riders - close relatives of the wasps - are a kind of transitional group in this respect. Their ovipositor is not retracted into the body and can be very long. With its help, the insect pierces the covers of the victim and introduces its eggs into its tissues. Some riders can painfully sting a person: thus, their ovipositor also performs both functions - both protection and reproduction.
But the males did not. Given that the predecessor of this organ - the ovipositor - is the prerogative of only females, it becomes understandable why males have no sting.
However, in nature, it is very difficult to distinguish males of paper wasps from females, and it's usually not possible to guess which insect can sting and which is not. In addition, in ordinary social wasps, males are extremely few, appear only at the end of summer or early autumn and live only two to three weeks. So the majority of the wasps are the females, who have a sting.
On a note
Each wasp has only one sting. Theoretically, the loss of only this organ is not fatal to an insect. However, in real conditions it does not lose it, because the smooth walls of the stinger make it easy to remove it from the victim's body and use it repeatedly.
How does the stinger work during a wasp attack
The sting is pulled out from the abdomen of the insect exactly at the moment when the wasp stings. After the attack, the insect can not hide the sting and inflict another one or more "strikes" on them.
Of course, for the successful stinging of the veil, the bodies of the victim must be softer than the sting. For this reason, wasps rarely hunt for beetles, well protected by solid elytra, but spiders, even very poisonous and dangerous, are very cleverly paralyzed by their poison:
After the introduction of poison into the victim's body, the wasp can easily remove the sting and, depending on the situation, either hides it and flies away, or stings it again. Extract their weapons from the bodies of insects and spiders, as well as from human skin and other warm-blooded animals, the insect can absolutely freely. This is the main difference between the bite of a wasp and the bite of a bee: the wasp does not leave a sting after a bite.
A wasp can sting about 4-5 times. At the same time, for one bite, she injects into the body of the victim an average of 0.3-0.4 mg of poison (and large hornets and scolias can enter up to 0.7 mg).
Sting of a wasp in the skin: is it possible?
Considering that the wasps do not leave a sting in the skin of the bitten person, the situation when their weapons have to be pulled out of the wound are practically excluded.
All cases with a stuck and torn off sting refer to bee stings. By the presence of this organ in the skin of the victim, it is easy to distinguish the bite of a wasp from the stings of a bee: if there is no sting, then it means that the wasp was bitten, and if there is, it means a bee. On this basis, it is possible to judge with confidence who did sting you.
Speaking of stinging, it is worth telling about how you can pull the sting of the bee from the skin, without causing additional damage to yourself.
There are two main and most commonly used methods:
- The safest way to remove a stinger is to carefully remove it with a needle, taking into account the next important point. The bee leaves its sting in the wound along with the poisonous gland (and part of the intestine), and the walls of the pouch with poison continue to contract, injecting under the skin all new portions of toxins. Therefore, the faster it will be possible to extract the sting, the less pronounced will be the effects of the bite.
- You can also get a stinger with tweezers or nails, but this method is much less preferred. The fact is that so you squeeze into the wound an additional amount of bee venom - both from the sting itself, and from a bag of poison connected to it. But if there was not a sharp object at hand, you can simply grab the stinger with your nails as close to the surface of your skin as possible and take it out.
Leave a bee sting in the skin can not be - not only because of the receipt of additional amounts of poison under the skin, but also simply because after a while the wound can become foul.
With regard to wasps and hornets, in general, you can thank them for the fact that they do some of the bite neutralization work themselves, without leaving a stinger in the skin and flying away with it.
Different wasps, different stings, different bites
Despite the fact that almost all os have a sting, the bites of their different species differ significantly in strength (soreness) and consequences. The difference is determined by the action of poison on the human body.
For example, the poison of giant Asian hornets is very allergenic and often leads to anaphylactic shock. Multiple bites at once several such hornets can create a risk to life even in people who are not prone to allergies.
Scolia, in size not inferior to hornets, sting, on the contrary, very weakly. Their poison is designed to paralyze sedentary and non-hazardous prey - beetle larvae - and therefore it almost does not cause pain in humans, but only leads to easy numbness in tissues.
The bites of road wasps, many of which hunt for tarantulas and other poisonous spiders, cause a very acute pain in warm-blooded people. On painfulness, their bites are among the most powerful insects in the world.
And, for example, in well-known beekeepers of os-philanthropists, hunting for honey bees, the sting is too thin and it is often impossible to pierce the rough skin on the palms of a person. Therefore, although the philanthropists sometimes sting people, beekeepers boldly catch them with their bare hands, without fear of bites.
It is important to remember that, almost always, wasps sting man in the order of self-defense or in protecting the nest. Being disturbed, these insects first of all try to fly away, and only after being in a critical situation (especially depressed), they resort to extreme measures and sting. In addition, if an insect seems to have come too close to their nest, they can collectively attack to drive out a potential abuser.
That is why, in nature or in the country, in order not to be stung, it is enough to exercise care, not to do sharp movements in the presence of wasps and hornets and look around. If there was a nest nearby, you should go around it, and if the insect accidentally sat on the body - just brush it off, but never slam it. This accuracy in most cases is quite enough to avoid bites.