Recently, I was having a discussion about carpenter bees with a property manager. I was explaining how the visible part of the holes are just a small portion of the actual tunnels the bees burrow.
“They burrow in, then turn at right angles, creating somewhat of a ‘T’ shape. The damage they create is much more extensive than what it appears.”, I explained.
“I see”, she replied, “but do they bite?”
I knew what she meant.
The general public often use the terms “sting” and “bite” interchangeably. I’ve even heard newer pest control professionals make the same mistake.
The easiest way to differentiate between a “sting” and “bite” is to identify the body part inflicting the damage.
A sting is administered with a stinger (located at the end of the abdomen), while a bite takes place through the action of mouthparts.
Stings occur through a stinger or through barbed hairs associated with a venom sac. Examples of stinging insects/arthropods include bees, wasps, stinging caterpillars, scorpions, and certain ants.
Approximately 1% of children and 3% of adults have acute allergic reactions to venom from insect stings. An estimated 50-100 sting-related deaths are reported each year in the U.S.
Bites may or may not carry venom. Bites may expose the victim to allergens, accidental secondary infection, or disease-causing pathogens. Examples of biting insects/arthropods include conenose bugs, assassin bugs, bed bugs, mosquitoes, ticks, mites, flies, and spiders.
The number of deaths due to biting pests is less clear, but their role in disease transmission is well-known (think West Nile Virus, Malaria, Chagas Disease, etc.
Either way, I hope this helps clear things up a bit. Thanks and stay safe out there!