A hornet's sting is painful to humans, but the effect of the sting varies by species. Some hornet stings have just enough toxicity to create a small bump, such as a typical sting from an insect, while others are quite venomous, such as those stings delivered by the Asian Giant hornet.
A hornet's stinger is located at the end (rear) of its body. It is a long, thin hollow rod with a sharp tip used to penetrate the skin. At the end of the rod, within the body, is the venom gland. Hornets can and do sting over and over again; they do not die after stinging one time like worker honey bees, which have barbed stingers. Hornets often bite while they are stinging.
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About the Stings
All hornet stings, regardless of species, have some similarities. They are all an allergen for those people who suffer from an allergy to the venom found in wasps. Wasp venom is different from bee venom, so it is important to know if you are allergic to wasp venom, bee venom or both. For people who have serious allergies, a sting can be life-threatening.
Hornet stings actually contain less venom than bee stings; however, they are more painful. A hornet usually uses its sting to kill prey, although it will also sting when threatened.
Treating a Hornet Sting
There is no need to search for or remove a stinger, as hornets do not leave their stingers behind like honey bees. Instead, wash the area carefully with soap and water, then apply a cold rag or ice pack for a few minutes to numb the pain. After numbing, apply a mixture of baking soda and water to the site of the sting for 10 to 20 minutes. You can also take acetaminophen for the pain. Do not drink alcohol, as this will intensify the pain.
If you do not know if you have an allergy to hornet venom, or if this is your first time receiving a sting, watch for serious symptoms such as abnormal or difficult breathing, dizziness, fainting, hives, swelling or nausea. Also, see a doctor if you are stung in the nose or mouth, even if you are not allergic, as swelling in these areas could block airflow.
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