Many insects produce venom that they transmit to their enemies and prey through bites or stings, but this does not necessarily mean that all venomous insects are dangerous to humans. Some venomous insect species dwell solely in uninhabited regions, making them an insignificant threat to humans. Other venomous insects do not possess large enough mouthparts to bite humans, making it impossible for them to transmit venom into the bloodstream. And then there are the venomous insects that are relatively docile and have little need to bite humans in most circumstances. Of course, many venomous insect species that exist can transmit their venom to humans. At best, venomous bites and stings cause a degree of pain that is less or equally painful to a bee sting. At worst, venomous insect bites and stings can land a victim in the hospital, and in some cases, fatalities result. However, these fatalities are almost exclusively a result of anaphylactic shock triggered by an allergic reaction to venom, rather than the venom itself being the cause of death. There exists numerous venomous insect species in Massachusetts that residents often spot near or within homes. Most of these venomous insects include ant, bee and wasp species, but there also exists several venomous caterpillar species in the Massachusetts area as well, but they are rarely the cause of medically significant envenomations in humans.
Of all the venomous insects in Massachusetts, it is certain wasp and bees species that residents are most likely to find infesting their home or other areas on their property. The venomous insect that poses the greatest threat to homeowners in the state is the yellow jacket. The yellow jacket is a type of wasp that often builds nests below decks, in garages, in sheds, within shrubs and bushes and even inside of homes. Yellow jackets prefer to consume human food, which brings them near human-inhabited areas. People are often attacked by these insects on their own property after accidentally disturbing an obscured nest. Bald-faced hornets often nest on or near human dwellings, and bumblebees are frequently spotted in people’s yards, especially yards that contain a garden. Luckily, neither bumblebees nor bald-faced wasps are likely to enter a human dwelling. Unfortunately, fire ants emerged in Massachusetts nearly a decade ago, and their populations are increasing in the state. These ants produce potent venom that has been known to cause death in humans who avoid or postpone medical treatment following envenomation. These ants are now believed to be abundant in many residential areas of Massachusetts.
Have you ever spotted fire ants in Massachusetts?