How do insect stings/bites harm you?

  • Thread starter wasteofo2
  • Start date
  • #1
466
2
Why is it that when you get stung by a bee or bitten by a mosquito that the area around it becomes inflamed? I remember hearing something on the discovery channel that snake venom was just harmful enzymes which digested your flesh, is that how all venom works?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,226
34
I believe there are several kinds of venom, but I'm no expert and can't seem to find a good page on it.

Venoms can do one of several things:

1) Actually digest skeletal muscle with enzymes (necrosis).
2) Attack nerves or neurons and cause paralysis.
3) Simply cause pain
4) Cause blood clots
5) Attack the kidneys

I'm such someone else with more knowledge can jump in with more.

- Warren
 
  • #3
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,149
64
Bee stings and mosquito bites must have very different chemistry. A bee sting is supposed to hurt and injury. A musquito bite is supposed to nurture the musquito, but remain unnoticed.

I don't know the details either, but when a mosquito penetrates the skin it injects its saliva that contains digestive enzymes and anticoagulants and probably also analgstetics. The body reacts to these foreign proteins by setting up an immune response, which causes the wheal.
 
  • #4
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,226
34
That's a good point Monique -- many people have very serious allergic reactions even to relatively friendly venoms like that of bees, which is only intended to cause pain.

- Warren
 
  • #5
1,100
0
Honey bee venom contains at least 18 active substances. Melittin, the most prevalent substance, is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory agents known (100 times more potent than hydrocortisol). Adolapin is another strong anti-inflammatory substance, and inhibits cyclooxygenase; it thus has analgesic activity as well. Apamin inhibits complement C3 activity, and blocks calcium-dependent potassium channels, thus enhancing nerve transmission. Other substances, such as Compound X, Hyaluronidase, Phospholipase A2, Histamine, and Mast Cell Degranulating Protein (MSDP), are involved in the inflammatory response of venom, with the softening of tissue and the facilitation of flow of the other substances. Finally, there are measurable amounts of the neurotransmitters Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Seratonin.
That is a list of what is in the sting. Still looking for the name of the venom to help me realise why it gives certain side affects.

The Bob (2004 ©)
 
  • #6
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,490
52
Wow, that's quite a concoction for one little bee! Interesting that there are compounds that seem to have opposing actions all in the same mix.

What any bite or sting will have in common is a general inflammatory response to the skin being broken or a foreign object or proteins being inserted into the skin. The rest would of course depend on what else wound up being injected into the skin by the critter doing the stinging/biting.
 

Related Threads on How do insect stings/bites harm you?

  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
16
Views
13K
Replies
1
Views
5K
Replies
6
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
3K
Replies
4
Views
4K
Replies
6
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
12
Views
56K
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
3K
Top