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Green wasp sting: Emerald or Cuckoo Wasps are Parasitic Killers

Emerald or Cuckoo Wasps are Parasitic Killers

Emerald or Cuckoo wasps have bright, metallic shades that make these wasps easy to spot even though they are very tiny.

“Commonly known as cuckoo wasps or emerald wasps, the hymenopteran family Chrysididae is a very large cosmopolitan group (over 3,000 described species) of parasitoid or kleptoparasitic wasps, often highly sculptured, with brilliant metallic colors created by structural coloration. They are most diverse in desert regions of the world, as they are typically associated with solitary bee and wasp species, which are also most diverse in such areas. The term “cuckoo wasp” refers to the cuckoo-like way in which wasps in the family lay eggs in the nests of unrelated host species. Chrysididae, the scientific name of the family, refers to their shiny bodies and is derived from Greek chrysis, chrysid-, “gold vessel, gold-embroidered dress”, plus the familial suffix -idae. The common names of many species pay similar tribute to their appearance: jewel wasp, gold wasp, emerald wasp, ruby wasp and so on,” according to Wikipedia.

Parasitic Killers

Australian Geographic reports that “Cuckoo Wasps belong to a special class of insects that are even more sinister than parasites. Parasites will just take what they can from their host, and if they can keep on taking for the rest of their (are their host’s) life, that’s enough for them. But cuckoo wasps are called parasitoids – they feed on and actually kill their hosts. They’re also cleptoparasites, because they steal their host’s provisions before they kill them. From the insect family Chrysididae – a group entirely comprised of various forms of parasites – cuckoo wasps are the only ones that look like this.

Female cuckoo wasps are widely believed to be unable to sting, the sting apparatus being reduced and supposedly non-functional, yet cases are known where people have received painful stings from larger species. A long, thin appendage may sometimes be seen extending from the tip of the female abdomen. This is not a ‘stinger’, but an ovipositor used for inserting eggs into a nest of a host”.

Behavior

Chrysidids are always solitary. They fly mainly in the hottest and driest months of summer, preferring subtropical and Mediterranean climates. They favor dry areas and sandy soils; each species is confined to a narrow type of microhabitat where adults may rest or find hosts to parasitize, for example on bare soil or on dead wood where other solitary wasps have their nest holes.

Appearance

The adult Cuckoo Wasp may be an emerald, gold, or garnet color, and has black eyes, wings, and legs. It is tiny compared to other bees, but its dimpled, shimmering body is bright enough to attract attention. Adults drink flower nectar and have very small stingers. They are active during the summer and can be found in a wide variety of habitats and natural areas, but are often seen visiting flowers.

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This beautiful wasp is a parasitic killer

Contributor

Bec Crew

Contributor

Bec Crew

Bec Crew is a Sydney-based science communicator with a love for weird and wonderful animals. From strange behaviours and special adaptations to newly discovered species and the researchers who find them, her topics celebrate how alien yet relatable so many of the creatures that live amongst us can be.

ByBec Crew•
January 15, 2018

Image credit: Yunhyok Choi

Reading Time: 2 Minutes •
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It must be one of the most beautiful insects we’ve ever seen, but you don’t want to get on the wrong side of one of these.

CUCKOO WASPS belong to a special class of insects that are even more sinister than parasites.

Parasites will just take what they can from their host, and if they can keep on taking for the rest of their (are their host’s) life, that’s enough for them.

But cuckoo wasps are called parasitoids – they feed on and actually kill their hosts. They’re also cleptoparasites, because they steal their host’s provisions before they kill them.

From the insect family Chrysididae – a group entirely comprised of various forms of parasites – cuckoo wasps are the only ones that look like this.

It’s not clear what, if any, purpose the metallic iridescence serves, but back in 2009, scientists discovered that this ‘lit from within’ quality comes from light refracting through open spaces between six layers of cuticle in their tough exoskeletons.

The surface of the cuckoo wasp’s exoskeleton is covered in tiny, dense pits, which gives them an almost glittery appearance. Want to get a better look at those pits? Check this out.

It’s clear to see why they’ve been nicknamed emerald or jewel wasps.

Like the cuckoo bird, cuckoo wasps will infiltrate the nests of other wasps and bees, and lay their eggs alongside their hosts’ offspring. Once these eggs hatch, the young cuckoo wasps larvae will feed on food stored in the nest for the host’s offspring, such as a paralysed spider or caterpillar.

When that food supply dries up, they’ll turn on the host’s offspring and eat those, too.

Cuckoo wasps from a number of different species are found all over Australia, with Stilbum cyanurum (the one pictured above) being the largest and arguably the most beautiful.

While our cuckoo wasps tend to be found in green, blue, or purple hues, in the Northern Hemisphere, they’ve also got red and gold cuckoo wasps, like this one, called Hedychrum rutilans, found in Brittany, France:

(Image Credit: Frank Vassen/Flickr)

If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these beauties in your background, don’t freak out too much about the prospect of a nasty sting – according to the Western Australian Museum, it’s not actually clear if our cuckoo wasps are capable of stinging, but it’s best to be wary around the big ones:

“Female cuckoo wasps are widely believed to be unable to sting, the sting apparatus being reduced and supposedly non-functional, yet cases are known where people have received painful stings from larger species. A long, thin appendage may sometimes be seen extending from the tip of the female abdomen. This is not a ‘stinger’, but an ovipositor used for inserting eggs into a nest of a host.”

If you want to see something incredibly cool, here’s a cuckoo wasp sleeping: 

If 2008 can bring us anything, let it be a sleep as peaceful as that.

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Stung by a wasp: what to do at home

At the end of August comes the peak of activity of wasps and bees. And if the latter attack a person solely for the purpose of self-defense, then the wasps are more aggressive and unpredictable in nature. In addition, they can bite several times, which automatically increases the amount of toxin that enters the bloodstream. What to do when bitten by a wasp, even a completely healthy person should know. An insect attack, often sudden, can cause a serious allergic reaction, up to anaphylactic shock with a fatal outcome.

Wasp sting: symptoms

A wasp cannot sting without being noticed. Signs appear instantly. Acute pain, burning and redness are typical symptoms. How long a wasp sting lasts depends on the general state of health and the location of the lesion. Strong immunity successfully fights toxins. After 2-3 hours, you can safely forget about meeting with an aggressive insect if the bite fell on the arms, legs, torso.

Signs on the face take a little longer to pass. Causes a wasp sting swelling that lasts up to 2 days. But, in almost 30% of cases, a local allergic reaction develops, which is manifested by the following symptoms:

  • Excruciating, painful itching around the bite.
  • Edema that increases every hour and can reach impressive proportions.
  • Severe redness, with increased local temperature (very hot to the touch).
  • Rapid pulse, increased heart rate.
  • Shortness of breath with shortness of breath.
  • Dizziness, faintness.
  • Dyspeptic disorders: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

Almost 2% of people are severely allergic to bee and wasp venom. A wasp sting has very deplorable consequences if you do not immediately seek medical help. Anaphylactic shock, death are the most severe complications after a collision with an insect.

What to do if a wasp stings: an ambulance

Anyone can develop an allergy to a wasp sting. Weakened immunity, specific treatment, concomitant diseases trigger negative processes and cause an inadequate reaction of the body. It is advisable to go to the hospital, especially if the wasp has bitten several times. How to treat a wasp sting:

  • hydrogen peroxide;
  • iodine or brilliant green solution;
  • furatsilin (2-4 tablets dissolve in 100 ml of warm water).

Doctors give a lot of advice on how to treat a wasp sting yourself. For example, to prevent swelling and relieve painful itching, you need to take antihistamines: Diazolin, Suprastin, Zodak, Claritin. Preference is given to proven drugs, with a minimum number of contraindications and side effects.

After being bitten by a wasp, what is strictly forbidden is to take alcohol and treat the wound with it. This can provoke a feverish state. After a wasp sting, you need to rest. Bed rest relieves stress, soothes pain, and promotes faster resolution of symptoms. If this is not possible, take a break from work for 30-60 minutes. Wasp venom in any case causes intoxication, even if the victim does not have severe symptoms. Doctors recommend drinking as much water as possible, taking adsorbents: Enterosgel, Sorbeks, Smektu. The drugs neutralize the action of the poison and quickly remove it from the body.

What should I do if my child is bitten by a wasp?

Children are more susceptible to insect bites. Even harmless, at first glance, blisters from mosquitoes appear brightly and disappear for a long time.

Wasp sting – first aid for a child:

  • Immediately after a wasp sting, it is necessary to inspect the wound for a sting. If the rod is not stuck deep, remove with tweezers.
  • Treat the bite site with any antiseptic and antiallergic cream (Fenistil). How to anoint a wasp sting can be advised by a doctor over the phone, while waiting for an ambulance.
  • Apply a cold compress.
  • Administer a pediatric antihistamine (follow instructions for dosage).
  • Call an ambulance or take the child to a doctor’s appointment.

Young children diagnosed with diathesis (atopic dermatitis) have an 80% chance of developing a severe allergic reaction. Therefore, if a wasp has bitten, only a pediatrician can say what to smear.

Wasp sting: what to do at home?

If a wasp has bitten you in transport, in the office or on the street, and there is no access to pharmaceutical preparations, you can provide first aid with available means:

  • Wash the wound with cold water and soap.
  • Treat the bite site with a leaf of parsley, plantain, green onion, aloe – well-known natural antiseptics.
  • Acidic foods cope well with primary symptoms: lemon, vinegar, sorrel, any berries with a high acid content.
  • Stung by a wasp, how to remove a tumor at home: an ice cube, a wet piece of refined sugar will help prevent the development of edema.

Wasp sting does not require treatment in most cases. But for this you need to take elementary first aid measures.

first aid and important tips

Published:

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Wasp sits on yellow petals: Pixabay

Wasps sting several times at once. Their sting contains a poisonous substance. What to do with a wasp sting and what danger it poses, the authors of medical publications, Erica Roth and Debra Jaliman, tell.

Symptoms of a wasp sting, what is its danger

Wasp stings are painful, but for most people they pass without complications. Initial sensations include sharp pain or burning at the site of the bite. There is redness, swelling and itching. What does a wasp sting look like? A raised scar develops around the bite site. A tiny white mark is visible in the middle of the scar, where the stinger had pierced the skin.

How long does a wasp sting last? Typically, pain and swelling go away within a few hours of being bitten, writes Erica Roth. Extensive local reactions to wasp stings include severe redness and swelling that worsens two or three days after the sting.

Wasps crawling up the neck of a green bottle: Pixabay

Nausea and vomiting may occur. In most cases, local reactions go away on their own within a week or so. A strong local reaction to a wasp sting once does not mean that the body will always react in the same way.

According to scientific author Bobby Varky Maramat, multiple wasp stings can lead to a severe allergic encephalitis reaction. The condition is accompanied by disorientation and headache. Treatment requires hospitalization and takes several days.

Why is a wasp sting dangerous? The greatest danger is a severe allergic reaction, which is called anaphylaxis. It occurs when the body reacts to wasp venom with a shock. In this case, it is important to respond quickly to what is happening and urgently seek medical help, since anaphylactic shock can be fatal.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to wasp stings are:

  • severe swelling of the face, lips or throat;
  • urticaria or itching in places not affected by the bite;
  • breathing difficulties;
  • dizziness;
  • sudden drop in blood pressure;
  • dizziness;
  • loss of consciousness;
  • nausea or vomiting;
  • diarrhea;
  • stomach cramps;
  • weak or rapid pulse.

If one or more symptoms are observed, seek immediate medical attention. The sooner you do this, the more likely you are to avoid danger and maintain health.

Do not try to force the venom out of the wound, do not massage the sting or break the skin to avoid the risk of spreading infection.

Swelling on the hand after a wasp sting: Flickr

First aid for a wasp sting

If there is no severe allergic reaction, then home remedies are enough to reduce pain and swelling at the site of the sting. What to do if bitten by a wasp? Take 9 Tips from Debra Jaliman, M.D.0003

  1. Wash the wound. Wash the bite site with soap and water. So remove the bacteria or poison that the wasp carries. For washing, you can use an antiseptic.
  2. Apply a cold compress. How to relieve swelling after a wasp sting? Take ice or any frozen product, wrap with a towel and apply to the affected area. Apply the bundle to the bite for 30-60 minutes at intervals of 10 minutes.
  3. Take an anti-inflammatory drug. An ibuprofen tablet will reduce inflammation and pain.
  4. Take an antihistamine. If the bite itches or you know you’re prone to an allergic reaction, take an antihistamine. It will relieve itching and pain, as well as help avoid a severe allergic reaction.
  5. Bandage. If the bite is very itchy, apply a bandage and try not to disturb the wound.

Seek medical attention if swelling, redness and pain persist for several days. This may be a symptom of an infection. If the local reaction is extensive with severe local swelling, doctors will prescribe oral corticosteroids for 3 to 5 days.

First aid for wasp stings: NUR.KZ

According to Erika Roth, vinegar is effective for wasp stings. Soak a cotton swab in apple or table vinegar and apply it to the affected area of ​​the skin. Use light pressure to help the remedy deal with pain and inflammation. Leave the cotton swab on your skin for a few minutes. The acidity of the vinegar neutralizes the alkaline environment of wasp stings and relieves pain.