Biting Insects – Types and Characteristics

Biting Insects – Types and Characteristics

Animals develop various strategies, either to feed or to defend themselves. In this way, they are able to obtain the nutrients necessary for their development and, on the other hand, respond to possible threats that could put them at risk.


Insects have different options for both cases. Some, while feeding, generate damage at the same time, as is the case for those whose food source is other animals or people. Others, in turn, have a specialized way of responding to a hazard, such as biting insects, which in many cases inoculate toxic substances. Keep reading this article and learn about the insects, types and characteristics that bite.

Do insects sting or sting?

Although we commonly use the expression “an insect bit me”, not all insects bite, as this is only done by those who have a structure like a stinger, which can penetrate the skin. On the other hand, we can say that there are “biting insects” , since they can use the mouthparts to cut the skin of an animal or a person during feeding.

Certain species, when they bite or cut the skin, transmit pathogens such as viruses or bacteria. While biting insects , it can generate allergic reactions in very sensitive people due to the inoculation of toxic substances.

Let’s get to know some of the species of insects that, whether by stinger or mouthparts, can pierce the skin of people or animals.

giant asian wasp

For the giant Asian hornet (Vespa mandarinia) It is considered the largest hornet in the world, as queens, for example, can exceed 5 cm in length and have a wingspan of up to 7.5 cm or more. Men and women are the same color, but only these are the ones that itch, as males don’t have stings. The head is light orange, the antennae are medium to dark brown with combinations of yellow, the mandible is orange, the chest is dark brown with a midline and gray wings.

It is native to East and Southeast Asia. It is very common in Japan, where it causes a few deaths a year as a result of its bite, since females are insects that bite with stings.

African bee

The African bee (Apis mellifera scutellata) It is an African subspecies of the common bee that was introduced to America and the hybrids are often called Africanized bees. They usually measure about 20 mm, their color is dark orange with black stripes and have the peculiarity of having the body covered with a kind of down.

Although the bite of just one of these insects is not deadly , it is quite aggressive. However, when a group of these bees attacks a person, the sting caused by many of these insects can be fatal.


The scorpion (Onychocerus albitarsis) is a unique insect, as it does not spray toxic substances like other species, but is able to sting using sting-like structures that are located in its antennae, which have poisonous glands.

It is native to countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay. There are reports of stings of this insect that cause various skin reactions in people.


fire ants

Fire ants (Solenopsis) have a dark brown abdomen, while the head region is lighter, the size of workers can reach about 6 mm. The genus Solenopsis corresponds to a group of ants that are characteristically stinging insects.

It is a species with distribution in several countries around the world and its bite is very painful and can cause death in sensitive people.

jumping ant

The jumping ant (Myrmecia pilosula) It owes its name to the leaps that this stinging insect manages to make. It is native to Australia, black or dark red with a dimension of 10 mm or a little more. It is an excellent hunter, for which it uses its senses and is able to inoculate a strong poison that completely paralyzes its victims on which it feeds.

In the case of people, the poison causes a lot of pain and affects it in many ways, to the point that in allergic people it can cause death.

bullet ant

The bullet ant (Paraponera clavata) It is a species with a wide distribution from Nicaragua to Paraguay, with exceptions in the territory of some countries. The bullet ant is considered one of the biting insects and causes the most painful sting inside Hymenoptera.


Triatoma infestans

Depending on the region, this species is known in different ways: chipo, black chinche, pito, vinchuca, among others. This is an insect of the group of the order Hemiptera and measures about 35 millimetres. It is native to South America and one of the Trypanosoma cruzi transmitters, which causes the disease known as Chagas disease.

This insect is hematophagous, so to feed it uses its oral device, which is a perforator-sucker, by which it pierces the victim’s skin and sucks blood directly from a blood vessel in the skin. After feeding, he is forced to defecate and the parasite is in the feces, so that due to irritation, the person scratches himself, involuntarily incorporating the parasite into the affected tissue.

tsetse fly

The tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans) It is a species of African Diptera that, together with several others of the same genus, are capable of transmitting the protozoan Trypanosoma brucei, causing diseases in animals, in addition to causing sleeping sickness in people it affects many individuals annually.

This fly can measure up to about 14 millimetres in length, so it has a significant size. It has specialized mouthparts for biting or cutting the skin and then sucking blood.

tropical insect

The tropical stink bug (Cimex hemipterus) belongs to the order Hemiptera and is a species that feeds mainly on the blood of the people, so it is specifically associated with humans.

It is found mostly in tropical areas, although it may inhabit some more temperate areas. They are reddish-brown and about 8mm long. Your oral device is designed to bite or cut the skin and then suck the blood from the person you are eating.

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