What To Do If You’re Stung by an Ichneumon Wasp: Effective Strategies for Relief

While ichneumon wasps usually do not sting humans, it’s not a bad idea to be prepared. Here’s what to do if ichneumon wasp stings and why it isn’t a big deal.

Scared of the giant ichneumon wasps buzzing around your garden? I can’t blame you for fearing wasps, for they do have an ill reputation for their painful stings.

However, should you be afraid of ichneumon wasps? Will it cause you any kind of infection or disease? What should you do if you get stung by one? Let’s figure it out.

What To Do If Ichneumon Wasp Stings

 

Can Ichneumon Wasp Sting?

The huge stingers of the ichneumon wasps might indeed be scary. Adult wasps of these species have stingers up to four inches long, which are hard and powerful enough to drill into tree trunks. However, only a few varieties of ichneumon wasps sting humans at all.

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Unlike many other aggressive species of wasps, ichneumon wasps usually keep to themselves and aren’t bothered by the presence of humans. Even the giant ichneumon wasps are harmless to humans unless you go ahead and disturb them first.

Are These Wasps Harmful to People in Any Way?

You do not have to worry about the ichneumon wasps at all; they aren’t harmful to humans in any way. As mentioned earlier, only some of them are stinging wasps, and even those don’t usually sting humans except in self-defense.

Rather, these wasps are very beneficial for your garden, acting as natural predators of pests that can harm your plants.

Being parasitoids, ichneumon wasps use the larvae of other pests to lay their eggs. A female ichneumon wasp injects its eggs into a larva, where the egg hatches.

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The newly hatched wasp larva starts feeding on the fluids and fats of the host larva, eventually killing it. This helps keep other pest populations under control.

What To Do If Ichneumon Wasp Stings

 

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Can They Inject Their Eggs Into Humans?

So that last bit was a bit scary, right? Can female wasps lay their eggs by injecting them into humans too?

It might evoke flashbacks of the movie “Alien.” A wasp larva growing and feeding inside your body is indeed a terrifying thought. However, rest assured that ichneumon wasps cannot and do not inject their eggs into humans.

These wasps prefer small insects, or more specifically, insect larvae, as hosts for their eggs. Common host species include tomato hornworms, horntails, butterflies, etc.

This is because, along with the eggs, they also inject venom that suppresses the immune system of the host. This venom isn’t strong enough to work on humans, so if they try to inject their eggs into your body, your immune system will simply fight off the venom and kill the eggs.

What Should You Do if One Stings You?

While it’s unlikely that you will ever get stung by an ichneumon wasp, if it happens, you should be prepared for it.

In case you accidentally end up mishandling or provoking them in any way, they might get aggressive and sting you.

The venom of an ichneumon wasp can cause serious symptoms but mostly if you are allergic to it. Here’s what you should do, depending on the severity:

Serious symptoms

Serious symptoms may include loss of consciousness, tightness of the throat, hoarseness, dizziness, swelling in areas other than where the wasp stung, cramps, etc.

In case of such severe symptoms, call the emergency helpline for medical attention. If you have epinephrine available, inject a shot of it immediately. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t take more than two shots of epinephrine except under medical supervision. You should take the second shot only if the first doesn’t deliver results within 10-15 minutes.
  • Avoid injecting it into your hands or feet, as doing so may result in tissue damage. The best place to inject epinephrine is the thigh.
  • Even if the injection works and the symptoms are gone, you still need to visit the ER.

Those who have a history of severe allergic reactions should take the epinephrine shot without waiting for any symptoms to appear.

Don’t worry; it won’t cause any harm. However, if your doctor has prescribed a specific anaphylaxis action plan, you should follow that instead.

Non-serious symptoms

Non-serious symptoms include sharp pain, itching, burning, or swelling at the sting site.

As long as you don’t have a history of allergic reactions and the symptoms aren’t severe, you don’t need emergency medical attention.

Just follow the steps below to get rid of the stinger and treat the wound:

  • Firstly, you need to remove the stinger in case it breaks off and got left behind. Just scrape the area with a straight object, like a credit card, to push out the stinger. Make sure not to pinch the stinger, as it can release more venom.
  • Now that you have gotten rid of the stinger apply ice to the area. It will control the swelling and the pain. Also, if you are wearing any tight-fitting jewelry in the stung area, remove them before it becomes impossible due to the swelling.
  • If the wasp stung your hand or leg, elevating it will help limit the swelling, too, by reducing blood pressure in the area.
  • Once you have taken care of the sting wound, it’s time to treat your symptoms. An over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen should help with the pain. If the stung area is itchy, apply a calamine lotion or a mix of water and baking soda.

Generally, the swelling and the pain subside within two to five days.

What To Do If Ichneumon Wasp Stings

 

Frequently asked questions

Are parasitic wasps poisonous?

Parasitic wasps like ichneumon, braconid, and chalcid wasps may have venom in their stingers, but it isn’t potent against humans. These wasps are poisonous only to other insects.

Does a short-tailed ichneumon wasp sting?

Yes, the short-tailed ichneumon wasp is capable of stinging. However, its sting doesn’t contain any venom, so even when stung, you are completely safe.

Can Pimpla Rufipes sting humans?

A Pimpla Rufipes has cytotoxic venom in its sting, but fortunately, it isn’t dangerous to humans at all. These wasps mostly target butterfly caterpillars or their larvae to lay eggs.

What wasp has a really long stinger?

The giant ichneumon wasp is one of the largest parasitoid wasps, with a stinger/ovipositor that is four to five inches in length. They usually choose horntail larvae as their host.

Wrapping up

Ichneumon wasps come in several varieties. These wood borers vary in appearance but are usually slender. They can either be bright or dark in color. The scorpion wasp, an ichneumon species, has yellow bands on its abdomen.

Regardless of the species, you may rest assured that they’re completely harmless and help protect your garden from pests.


Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

79 thoughts on “What To Do If You’re Stung by an Ichneumon Wasp: Effective Strategies for Relief”

  1. We just found one in our back yard in Providence, RI. We have a cord of wood stacked near the house. Is this a benficial bug or a destructive bug? We have many large raised beds filled with vegatables, herbs, and flowers. Besides two cats.

    any thoughts?

    Reply
  2. I think I found a big giant ichneumon. There were five of them. One yellow and black and 4 of them had blue wings.
    I’d like to the pictures I just took.

    Reply
  3. OMG, I ROFLMAO.
    You guys are the best.
    I understand her being concerned about her baby, but really; you can only go by what people tell you & show you in a picture.

    Reply
    • Dear voltron7,
      We were very sorry to see this submission ourselves. We had prepared the posting and were using BugGuide to try to get a species identification when we realized that the three year old image was already posted there and attributed to another photographer.

      Reply
  4. hi, i found a bug that looks just like this flying around my front door in the middle of the day… the only difference is that the tail is brown, not black. is it still a male Giant Ichneumon? i live in indiana, so i don’t know if this can even be here or if it is everywhere. i’ll put up pictures if i can. thanks!

    Reply
  5. Thank You So much!! When I was a teenager living in Richmond, VA, I found one of these bugs in my parent’s garage. I killed it and took it to my science teacher but Never got an answer on what it was. All these years I’ve wondered, and now I have an answer! (P.S. I no longer kill insects of any variety, and have been known to save spides of all species)

    Reply
    • We will be sure to contact you if we ever learn any additional information. Thanks for the gentle reminder to follow up on this posting. We will try contacting Eric Eaton to see if he can provide any information.

      Reply
  6. We had one identical to this wasp, with the black and white, fly in to our house last night (June 12, 2014, Lake Forest Park, Washington (just west of Brier, Washington where this specimen was found)). This is the only matching photo I have found to date. I do have photos for anyone interested.

    Reply
  7. it looks a lot like what stung me, i thought it was a crane fly(mosquito eater) i went to put it out side and it stung my arm, my problem is the sting site keeps swelling back up and re opening…. was it the same thing?

    Reply
    • We have been getting reports of some species of Ichneumons that are capable of stinging. We still maintain that Crane Flies are perfectly harmless.

      Reply
  8. This Samantha girl doesn’t sound so bright and blames people who are actually giving helpful information, rude. I hope her infant doesn’t take after it’s mother’s stupidity.

    Reply
  9. Saw one of these tonight in cork ireland, I have never seen anything like it before. I knew it wasnt a crane fly it had a nasty looking stinger

    Reply
  10. October 22 in central New Jersey. Just grabbed what I thought was a Crane Fly by the wing to fling it outside, and got stung on my fingertip. Ow! No mark, no swelling, but the finger feels warm. It must have been this Ichneumon. I have no photo, but I remember before I picked it up I thought it was kind of creepy-looking for a Crane Fly — its abdomen wasn’t straight but swollen-looking, wider toward the tip, like an elongated teardrop shape; and its wings were broader and shorter than usual. Still, I didn’t pay attention to whatever my instinct was trying to tell me — after all, I’m not afraid of no creepy-looking bugs! Next time I’ll know better!

    Reply
  11. My wife was stung tonight…I never really paid very close attention to the difference of the two, Crane Fly vs Ichneumons. It is definitely more orange in color, and definitely stings. Guess it pays to know our insects, so when we choose to help a Crane Fly out of our house, we indeed must make sure that is what it is.

    Reply
  12. Okay…I found one that looks pretty much like this and similar to another photo…flightless ichneumon. I found him in my house, in Coeur d’Alene Idaho. Typically I kill bugs once they enter my home, but I’m wondering if he might be beneficial outside somewhere…in a fruit tree, near the ant hill, or in the lawn or raspberry garden…?
    Any suggestions what to do with him?

    Reply
  13. I believe I was stung by one of these and the spot where it stung me is now huge and swollen and very itchy, now that I know what it is, will be watching out for them from now on!

    Reply
  14. I just discovered one yesterday and also was very curious to figure out what it was. I also have never seen one before, and have lived in South Dakota over 40 years . So they’re here too! 🙂

    Reply
  15. I agree. This bug has bit me a few times when I lived in Nacogdoches. The are out at the same time as crane flies but their tail looks different and the are distinctively more orange.

    Reply
  16. I have been stung repeatedly by what appears to be a very large crane fly a lot of times it bites me on my face at night time it can land on me without hardly feeling it except for a slight flutter and the next day I have a welt with the white Mark in the middle and a large red welt that area I think it is trying to lay eggs in my skin but the lesion is very painful as it begins to swell and it takes a long time for it to go away and I have no idea what’s been injected into my body but I do get aches and pains and all kinds of other issues this is been happening to me in one particular house about every month or two and it’s driving me crazy

    Reply
    • Can you please describe more about what the area looked like after the sting? Was there any red dots? Or white dots around? Was it numb? What happened later and how long does it take to completely disappear? Is there anything I can do immediately after the sting to make sure it didn’t leave anything under my skin? It happened at night, I only noticed this in the morning too

      Reply
  17. My daughter was just stung by something like this. I have a photo but don’t know how to upload it. Just want to make sure it’s nothing venomous. This one had barb like hairs on its legs

    Reply
  18. I have a photo of what looks like the same wasp. I took the photo yesterday in Lamb’s Canyon, Really cool looking insect. I would love to know, more specifically, what it is also. If I can figure out how to attach the photo I will but I do not see a tab or link for attaching photos.

    Reply
  19. I was also stung by this”short-tailed wasp” was grocery shopping, picked up a pack of cookies and felt a sting, horrendous burn right away! Didn’t see the actual wasp but pulled the stinger out of my finger, after some googling this is the insect! Can’t believe the pain this wasp can bring! Wow, it still burns few days later!! I’m scared now of these things! Thank God wasn’t poisonous but they must be attracted to sugar as well! Stay safe people!? Amber C. Greensboro, NC
    Sept. 10, 2018

    Reply
  20. I was also stung by this”short-tailed wasp” was grocery shopping, picked up a pack of cookies and felt a sting, horrendous burn right away! Didn’t see the actual wasp but pulled the stinger out of my finger, after some googling this is the insect! Can’t believe the pain this wasp can bring! Wow, it still burns few days later!! I’m scared now of these things! Thank God wasn’t poisonous but they must be attracted to sugar as well! Stay safe people!? Amber C. Greensboro, NC
    Sept. 10, 2018

    Reply
  21. I have just been stung by something that looks like a crane fly. It came in through an open window this evening and I picked it up by its wings. As I was putting it outside again its head turned round and it stung me. It was like a hot poker. Still sting now some 15 minutes after the event.

    Reply
  22. Just found one of these little buggers in my kitchen this evening – flew into the water in my dishpan and couldn’t get out. Nasty looking stinger. Location: Wichita, KS.

    Reply
  23. This was in my sisters dining room, good thing I caught it. Did some googling good thing I found out it’s a wasp or I wouldn’t have cared much, but for some reason it was just flying in circles, strange but true.

    Reply
  24. I saw one of these for the first time on my screen door. I thought it was a flying ant, until I noticed the long tail, which kind of freaked me out. I didn’t think of it being a wasp, or other stinging bug as it was smaller than any wasp I had ever seen.

    Reply
  25. Chased me around my room after it stung me and then continued to circle around my light on the ceiling. VERY painful and I am not getting stung again. If you see one, stay calm but also stay clear!

    Reply
  26. A web search for what stung me yesterday led to this page. The above photo of the wasp looks the most similar that I could find of the bug that got me yesterday. The sting occurred while I was working on my brother’s property in north-central California.

    Sting was very painful. Think about 10 times the pain from a bee sting. The pain subsided after about a hour, so I didn’t think too much of it. When I woke today though, I could see the area was swollen. Now, about 30 hours after the sting, the swelling is minimal, but there is a large red area extending about 3 inches out from the sting location – near my left elbow. Not much pain at this point. Itchiness = about a 3 out of 10. Not a photo of my arm, but this looks very similar to my reaction: https://image.shutterstock.com/image-photo/painful-allergic-reaction-wasp-sting-600w-507971728.jpg Not fun.

    Reply
  27. A web search for what stung me yesterday led to this page. The above photo of the wasp looks the most similar that I could find of the bug that got me yesterday. The sting occurred while I was working on my brother’s property in north-central California.

    Sting was very painful. Think about 10 times the pain from a bee sting. The pain subsided after about a hour, so I didn’t think too much of it. When I woke today though, I could see the area was swollen. Now, about 30 hours after the sting, the swelling is minimal, but there is a large red area extending about 3 inches out from the sting location – near my left elbow. Not much pain at this point. Itchiness = about a 3 out of 10. Not a photo of my arm, but this looks very similar to my reaction: https://image.shutterstock.com/image-photo/painful-allergic-reaction-wasp-sting-600w-507971728.jpg Not fun.

    Reply
  28. This is one of the aculeate wasps, not an ichneumonid. Several similar groups (Sphaeropthalminae, Chyphotinae, and Brachycistidinae) typically only have wings in the males (which can’t sting). Generally, it’s not possible to determine which species delivered a sting unless you saw while it was stinging you.

    Reply
    • Thanks for this correction, but please assist our non-scientific editorial staff by defining Aculeate Wasps. Based on BugGuide, the Aculeata includes all Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps.

      Reply
  29. My 11yr old daughter was just stung by one of these today. We live in East Central Indiana and she went outside and sat down on the swing and it stung the back of her calf. I actually had to knock it off of her as she was screaming in pain after several seconds of it stinging her. I had never seen anything like it before so we killed it and I took to google to find out what it was. What’s surprising is the last few days here have been near freezing temps overnight so most of the bees and annoying insects we usually see have been gone.

    Reply
  30. Hello Bugman,
    Earlier this evening I posted you a photo a friend of mine sent me asking if I could ID an insect she had photographed in the Sierra Nevada western slope in Northern California. It is definitely an Ichneumonid wasp and probably a stump stabber, Megarhyssa sp. (nortoni seems like the species described in my “California Insects” guide by Jerry Powell and Charles L. Hogue, publ 1979). It has the same appendages that Blue describes as “… thin tentacle things coming out from the tail that extend more than twice the length of the body, that would flutter when in the air… These tentacles could point straight up, or curl all the way to the ground”. Can you explain their use?

    Reply
  31. Hello Bugman,
    Earlier this evening I posted you a photo a friend of mine sent me asking if I could ID an insect she had photographed in the Sierra Nevada western slope in Northern California. It is definitely an Ichneumonid wasp and probably a stump stabber, Megarhyssa sp. (nortoni seems like the species described in my “California Insects” guide by Jerry Powell and Charles L. Hogue, publ 1979). It has the same appendages that Blue describes as “… thin tentacle things coming out from the tail that extend more than twice the length of the body, that would flutter when in the air… These tentacles could point straight up, or curl all the way to the ground”. Can you explain their use?

    Reply
  32. My friend had cellulitis from a white flying bug like the one in the picture and I said to her while she was screaming in pain abd it was red & swelling…i have never seen a bug like this
    Bristol Pennsylvania

    Reply
  33. My friend had cellulitis from a white flying bug like the one in the picture and I said to her while she was screaming in pain abd it was red & swelling…i have never seen a bug like this
    Bristol Pennsylvania

    Reply
  34. Hi I just got stung. Hurt a lot. Painful. I think I’ll be okay. Happy to hear that I have people who have been through the same thing. It was sitting on my laptop. Came back and tried to sting me again. Very mean. If you could avoid being stung by this I would. 1/10 would recommend it.

    Reply
  35. I appreciate this site! While rescuing a ‘crane fly’ from the house I was stung/bit by it. Pretty painful. I noticed it looked a little different and began researching. So glad to find this site!
    Fort Worth, TX, 3/15/21.

    Reply
  36. I appreciate this site! While rescuing a ‘crane fly’ from the house I was stung/bit by it. Pretty painful. I noticed it looked a little different and began researching. So glad to find this site!
    Fort Worth, TX, 3/15/21.

    Reply
  37. I just got stung by one tonight . We are in Dayton,Ohio. Thought it was a giant mosquito flying around my kitchen until it stung the back of my arm. Hurt pretty good and continued to burn . Took some benadryl and motrin and rubbed lavender oil on it and headed to bed.

    Reply
  38. I am in Alexandria MN and thought it was a Crane Fly or mosquito hawk and tried to grab it by the wings and put it outside. It stung me an I killed it. I was a bit shocked so I had to find out what it was and now I know.

    Reply
  39. I just got stung by one of these critters…..twice. We did some Google searching and found this site. If anybody is going to get stung, it’s me……

    Reply
  40. Can someone please tell me what to do if there’s a possibility of it laying eggs in the skin? Are there any immediate signs? And how to get rid of it ASAP? I woke up with a swollen numb lip and 2 or 3 red dots on it. And something like a crane bug but with a larger black body was flying around for a few days before, I noticed it has a stinger today

    Reply
  41. I was laying in bed sleeping and this little guy stung me in the eyeball to wake me up. I hit it with my phone and it’s head fell off. Western MA

    Reply
  42. In bed with my wife and she turned out the light it attacked and stung her 7 times. Chaos followed when the light came on we tracked down and decapitated with my phone.
    Saved its corps in a bag.

    Reply
  43. My wife had one land on her ankle last night while chillin on the back porch. She whacked it and it stung her twice. She couldn’t see what it was at first and she immediately said it hurt which worried us because maybe a spider since it was night. Turned on the light and seen the lil booger had a stinger so I had to look it up. She is allergic to yellow jackets so panic kicked in, luckily it’s not venomous. We put tobacco on it incase and had her take some meds. It left a red mark today for sure!!

    Reply
  44. Just been bitten/stung by this short tailed ichneumon. Surprised, having thought it was a crane fly, managed to catch it prior to throwing it out of the window. Don’t like wasps at the best of times! Didn’t think we got these things in the UK!

    Reply
  45. found one in my house tonight couldn’t quite see it, it was in the light. i grabbed a napkin and grabbed it. I smashed it after it slipped out saw it had stinger thankfully no sting! Savonburg Ks

    Reply
  46. I think I think have just had one in my house, it was long skinny body with black main and yellow band near the bottom, also yellow legs too

    Reply
  47. I got stung by one of these thinking it was a crane fly. I grabbed it planning on feeding it to my lizard when it stung me a few seconds later my thumb is now red and swollen because I’m mildly allergic to wasps this website helped me figure out that crane Flys did not suddenly grow stingers and I now know do me more cautious around bugs.

    Reply

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