Public Health Importance 403 Veterinary Importance 406 Prevention And Control 406 References And Further Reading 408

The social Hymenoptera—the ants, bees and wasps—are the primary group that constitutes a stinging hazard to humans. Together with the termites they probably constitute over 75% of all the insect biomass (Holldobler and Wilson, 1990). Most Hymenoptera are solitary species which do not present much of a stinging concern. While hymenopteran stings can cause problems to humans, this order includes very beneficial insects, such as pollinating bees and the parasitoids, that serve as natural biological control agents for many insect pests. Also, ants and wasps are among the foremost predators in regulating insect

MEDICAL AND VETERINARY ENTOMOLOGY Copyright 2002, Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.

populations in some forest communities and agroeco-systems.

The Hymenoptera of most concern to human health are the aculeates, or stinging hymenopterans, which can use their sting apparatus as either an offensive or defensive weapon. Most aculeates are solitary, nonaggressive species that use their sting and venom primarily to subdue prey. Those that can sting usually cause only moderate discomfort to humans and the pain is of short duration. Many solitary wasps and bees are so small that the sting cannot penetrate human skin except in tender areas. Most serious stings are inflicted by those species that live in colonies, which are defending stores of nectar and pollen or their developing brood. Often their venoms contain chemicals that cause intense pain and that serve as effective deterrents against vertebrate predators.

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