The 8 Worst stinging insects in North America! Shocking

In this article I’ll share with you the 8 worst stinging insects (at least in my opinion) found in North America.

There are a few of them, you may even have encountered them once in your life.

Not only that, I’ve included a real world story for each insect where humans have encountered them and what happened!

So keep reading as I think there’s a few examples later on in the article that will surprise you…

Bot Fly (Ostridae)

By Karsten Heinrich (& G. Kothe-Heinrich) - Own work, CC BY 3.0,
By Karsten Heinrich

Botflies can penetrate the skin of mammals. Botflies can even live in the subdermal zones of human skin for over 60-days where the host can feel movement beneath their skin as if something is crawling.

We can find these insects in America.

The borrowing of the larvae to human skin is called Myiasis, which makes this insect a true parasite.

Botflies are very dangerous as they will expose the human host to a wide range of bacteria when they lived inside the flesh of humans.

As long as they remove the flies from the flesh, there is no chance to develop further, health risks.

They lay eggs and then make sure that the eggs will grow fully, so they abound in the environment.

“A 28-year-old man expectorated what he believed to be a parasite in 2017. He believed this caused his cough and chest tightness. Upon presentation of the expectorated parasitic form, they identified it as a larva of bot flies.

The man remembered that his cat killed a mouse and left it on top of his bed, with it already decomposing”.

Brown-Tail Moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea)

By Alvesgaspar (talk) - Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Alvesgaspar

They found these species in the north-easternmost state in the US. Their presence is mostly confined in some islands off the coast of Maine and Cape Cod, since then it has established its population and became a persistent problem for the residents in that area.

The brown-Tail moth has a dark brown color with a broken white stripe on its back. Two obvious red spots on their back are also one of their identifying qualities with barbed hairs covering their body.

The toxin is in the caterpillars’ barbed hairs that break off easily. This causes a health problem for several people who may get severe rashes, headaches, and respiratory problems, for severe allergic reactions.

They are being controlled in areas where they have a huge populace. They use insecticides beneath the bark of the trees, leaves.

There was one victim of the brown-tail moth where her entire back and shoulder were covered in bumps. Intense itching, and the bumps, were hot to the touch. She took Benadryl to lessen the itching; the itching subsides in the next few days.

Tarantula Hawk (Pepsini)

By Tarantula_hawk.JPG: Astrobradleyderivative work: B kimmel (talk) - Tarantula_hawk.JPG, Public Domain,

We can find this critter in every continent, we also find them in America with its sting pain that lasts for three minutes. The stinging is like the feeling of getting electrocuted in that manner when you suddenly touched the tip of the electric socket. But you can get over it in just a few minutes.

The tarantula hawks are not a danger to humans, but they mostly attack tarantulas and stinging them to get paralyzed in the process.

There is no report of them being endangered, or their species being threatened to extinction.

There is no record of people being victimized by tarantula hawks and their sting as the tarantula hawks are more interested in tarantulas. They will sting when the need arises and if they are approached by humans.

Yellow Jackets (Vespula vulgaris)

By Alvesgaspar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Alvesgaspar

We can find this species in North America, especially in southeastern states.

They are not highly aggressive when there is no need to be, but they are highly territorial that they can become aggressive if there is aggravation. When they sting, it can be very painful. The danger is in the severe reaction to their sting, which can happen within 2 hours after the stinging.

The yellow jacket will nest on any property, most especially if there is a warm surrounding. They are beneficial in controlling insect pests such as caterpillars and beetle grubs. Bears also gain something from a yellow jacket as they make these insects their meal.

As of this writing, endangerment will come from the urbanization of their usual habitat.

There was an incident in November 2019, where a father posted on a community Facebook page asking for help to exterminate the nest of a yellow jacket found in their front yard. His son was repeatedly stung but luckily did not have any severe reaction to the stinging.

Harvester Ant (Pogonomyrmex barbatus)

By LordOfAnts user (formiculture, discord) - Original photographer given directly to me with permission to use., CC0,
By LordOfAnts

These ants get their name from their behavior to collect seeds and food. There are 22 species of harvester ants found in the US, which include California harvester ant, Florida harvester ant, Western harvester ant, black harvester ant, red harvester. They confine most of these harvester ant species in the west of the Mississippi River, but not the Florida harvester ant.

Their sting is painful, and when their nests get disturbed by animals, we know them to kill. But in humans, the danger is only when there are allergic reactions to the sting where severe allergic reactions include swollen lips, tongue, face, wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, and chest tightness.

These ants are huge in numbers. They are not endangered or threatened.

In June 1974, there were studies made on eight patients who got stung by these ants. They were provided antihistamines, and they made some studies as well on the danger of red harvester ants and its other species to those who have a high allergic reaction to insect bites/stings.

Bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)

By Pavel Suslinnikov - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
By Pavel Suslinnikov

Found throughout North America, and they are just called hornets because of their enormous size. They can reach between 13 to 20mm.

They build their nest closely in vegetation and trees in forest areas with members that can reach over 400.

Their sting causes a sharp pain, mostly because of how they sting their victims repeatedly, they are highly aggressive, especially when their nest is under attack.

Their sting will not only result in inflammation, redness, intense itching, but also burning sensation, and may also cause temporary blindness to their victims when sprayed by their venom in the eye area.

They are not dangerous as long as you leave them alone in their nest, and they are beneficial since they eat garden pests and those larvae that have no use in your home.

If you don’t want them near your home, just spray peppermint oil in areas where they may nest.

There is no report yet of their species being threatened to extinction, and they are still largely populating.

Numerous people have fallen victim to the like species of bald-faced hornets or hornets. These insects have also killed dozens of people in other countries. There are stories from around the world where these stingers have stung people because they have accidentally come close to their nest.

Warrior Wasp (Synoeca septentrionalis)

By Jose Antonio Aranda Pineda -, CC BY 4.0,
By Jose Antonio

Also called as paper wasp and found in Northern America. This species is fast and aggressive. They are highly defensive and will sting when threatened. Warrior wasp is known to beat their wings in unison to make a sound like troops marching.

They have iridescent wings plus massive jaws, and their bodies are one-inch long.

Their sting has a sharp and shooting quality to it. The swelling skin requires medical attention, and it a medical emergency if there are swarms who attacked the victim.

The number of wasps is in decline, and although they are considered a pest by some, they have a huge role in pollination and the continuation of different plant species all over the world.

Deaths from wasp stings are slowly rising, not just wasp stings but also bees and hornet stings. The victims are mostly male and maybe because of their job and are more exposed to these creatures.

There was a 55-year-old farmer who developed multi-organ dysfunction plus acute kidney injury and rhabdomyolysis after he was stung repeatedly by wasps. The complication includes renal failure. He was treated with antibiotics and undergone hemodialysis.

Mosquitoes (Culicidae)

By Alvesgaspar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Alvesgaspar

We can find different species of mosquitoes around the world. We can find 174 of these species in Northern America alone, there is the genus Aedes, which is the mosquito responsible for yellow fever. A human will get infected by a bite, and then he will transmit the virus to another human and will be a cycle and is also the reason yellow fever becomes endemic in some cities.

Yellow fever, if not treated, can lead to meningitis, where the first symptoms include nausea, fever, and malaise.

There is also Aedes aegypti specie that carries the dengue virus, but they mostly find it in Southeast Asia and some in the Southern states of the US and Central America.

Although there are other species of mosquitoes, they are more visible in other countries.

Mosquitoes will bite, and once they bite humans, there is the cycle of itching and bumps on the skin. The bite is usually uncomfortable, especially when you can’t stop itching, and there is more to its bite than mere bumps and skin rash.

They are not endangered or threatened, but it is the other way around. Humans are finding ways on how to eliminate them in their homes and their surroundings.

The proliferation of mosquito repellant is just one of the many results of continuous studies being made in how to keep mosquitoes away from people.

There are almost millions of people at risk from mosquito bites, and there are also deaths in different countries and not just in the US. The worst-hit are mostly tropical countries where there is warm weather since mosquitoes love the warm climate. There are also some issues with mosquito bites in America, but to a lesser extent.

If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:

Pest Category






That’s it for this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it and if you think it might be useful for someone else then please share it on social media, email or your own website! It really encourages us to write more content and grow the site!

All the best


Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page

Recent Posts