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A stinger (or sting) is a sharp organ found in various animals (typically insects and other arthropods) capable of injecting venom, usually by piercing the epidermis of another animal.
An insect sting is complicated by its introduction of venom, although not all stings are venomous. Bites, which can introduce saliva as well as additional pathogens and diseases, are often confused with stings. Specific components of venom are believed to give rise to an allergic reaction, which in turn produces skin lesions that may vary from a small itching wheal, or slightly elevated area of the skin, to large areas of inflamed skin covered by vesicles and crusted lesions.
Stinging insects produce a painful swelling of the skin, the severity of the lesion varying according to the location of the sting, the identity of the insect and the sensitivity of the subject. Many species of bees and wasps have two poison glands, one gland secreting a toxin in which formic acid is one recognized constituent, and the other secreting an alkaline neurotoxin; acting independently, each toxin is rather mild, but when they combine through the sting, the combination has strong irritating properties. In a small number of cases, the second occasion of a bee or wasp sting causes a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.Hornets, some ants, centipedes, and scorpions also sting.
A few insects leave their stingers in the wounds, but this is overstated. For example, of the 20,000 species of bees worldwide, only the half-dozen species of honeybees (Apis) are reported to have a barbed stinger that cannot be withdrawn; of wasps, nearly all are reported to have smooth stingers with the exception of two species, Polybia rejecta and Synoeca surinama.