How painful is a hornet’s sting? What happens if you’re allergic to its venom? And could the hornet sting you in your stomach?
There are plenty of bugs and insects that can bite or sting us. And hornets might be one that you fear the most. Did you know that from 2000 to 2017, in the U.S. the CDC recorded 1,109 deaths from hornet, wasp, and bee stings? So, how likely is it that you could die from a hornet’s sting?
You might be asking, “what’s the difference between a hornet and a wasp? And actually, it’s the most obvious difference.
It’s their size. If you’ve ever seen a hornet, they are much bigger than your common wasp. Hornets can grow up to 5.5 cm (2.2 inches) in length. Imagine swallowing that.
And hornets are part of the wasp family. They’re a specific type of wasp. Since hornets are bigger than common wasps, does that make a hornet’s venom more painful? Well, they might deliver more venom.
But, research has shown that the composition of the venom is slightly different from wasps and bees. How painful venom is will depend on whether there is acetylcholine in it. And, hornet venom contains acetylcholine.
This is why hornet stings tend to hurt more. They also contain serotonin, which acts as an irritant, making the pain even worse. So turn the pain dial up to 11. Hornets are less aggressive than wasps. But if a hornet were in your mouth, it would most likely sting you in self-defense.
If you are allergic to hornet stings, what could happen to you? Well, it’s not good news.
If you are stung in your mouth or throat, there’s a chance that the area surrounding the sting would swell up. And if it blocks your airway, it could kill you. If you have a severe allergic reaction, you could go into anaphylactic shock. You could lose consciousness, and your heart could stop beating.
But, by all the wings of fortune, the hornet makes it to your stomach, alive. Could it still sting you in there? Our stomachs are full of acid and enzymes to break down the food we eat. And the acid is so strong that it could dissolve most of the other organs in our bodies.
So the hornet would probably have a tough time staying alive in there. But if it did survive in the stomach acid, even if it stung you, your stomach lining is so thick and durable that the sting might not affect you.
Who knew your stomach was so tough? So what are the chances of this happening? Well, it’s quite unlikely that you’d swallow a hornet, either accidentally or on purpose. You might end up biting and chewing the hornet before you swallowed it. But would you come out of that sting-free? Well, the hornet would probably be terrified. And since it doesn’t lose its stinger, you could be stung many times.
Hornets are around in the summer. So when you’re outside, you might want to check your glass before you drink from it. And if you think it would be awful if you swallowed a hornet, imagine being swallowed by a hippo. What that would feel like?
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