Stinging Comments

The latest posts on fire ant stings and insect venom anaphylaxis have raised interesting comments and questions.

Alex was surprised that allergic reaction in males was higher than females. In part, this is due to allergic response developing after multiple exposures. Males more often find situations that increase the chances of encounters with stinging insects and thus are stung more frequently.

Jay asks, “how do you find out if you’re allergic to their venom without actually being stung?”

Insect venom can be tested using the same methods used to test other allergens. Most often a skin prick test is used. Blood tests are typically less sensitive, but can be used to test for antibodies to the venom. People with high levels of antibody to a venom are more likely to express an allergic reaction. This brings to mind a story about Jonny Knoxville, aka “Jackass”. Early in his career, Jonny agreed to perform a stunt called “Beekini” that involved smearing his bikini with honey and standing in front of a bee hive. Prior to the stunt, he had a blood test for bee sting allergy. The tests came back positive, but late, just as he was getting ready to do the stunt. He did the stunt anyway, in spite of the risk. The outcome could have been tragic, but fortunately, the stunt was completed without a sting.


Johnny Knoxville models “Beekini”

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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12 Responses to Stinging Comments

  1. Rosetta, Robin says:

    I really enjoy reading your posts which help me keep up with current research in an enjoyable and entertaining way. And today’s image, made me laugh at a time when I really needed it. Thanks so much.

    Robin Rosetta
    Oregon State University Extension
    North Willamette Research and Extension Center
    15210 NE Miley Road
    Aurora, OR 97002-9543
    (503) 678-1264 x 133
    PNW Nursery IPM website

  2. Gabriel Elkin says:

    The idea that males are more likely to get stung by bees explains why more males are allergic to bees since allergies are the result of repeated exposure. I never thought of that!

  3. Leroy Clark says:

    How much of an effect would the venom have on a person without any allergies. Can a person die?

  4. Loved the Johnny Knoxville reference. Around how many stings would cause a tragic outcome for someone who did test positive for bee sting allergies?

  5. Madison Long says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that men get stung more than women due to their risky behaviors, because the same goes for being struck by lightening! Also, if Johnny had been stung, I wonder what emergency steps would of had to be taken in order to prevent death, or how much time he had before he died?

  6. Alex Roberts says:

    I would have never guessed that repeated exposure would cause someone to become more allergic. This also makes a lot of sense considering males perform much riskier behaviors than females most of the time. Also I have seen the episode of Knoxville doing the “beekini”. It was very funny and scary to watch, but now that I know the tests for antibodies came back positive, I don’t understand why anyone would ever go through with that. With the amount of bees that were on his body, I assume that he could have easily died. All of the venom that could have possibly been injected into his body is hard to even think about.

  7. Shane says:

    I really enjoyed the reference to Johnny Knoxville’s stunt in “Jackass”. That was one of my favorite stunts from the show and it is shocking to know that if he got stung he could have died!

  8. Jarad Holmes says:

    I feel like for Johnny Knoxville that was a huge mistake on his part not finding out until prior to doing that, and its amazing that none of them stung him, what causes the bees to sting exactly? With all of those bees located in the same spot, its a wonder why no of them stung him.

  9. Thanks , I have just been searching for info about this subject for a
    while and yours is the best I have came upon till now.
    However, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the supply?

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