Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Venoms and Toxins in Insects

  • Justin O. Schmidt
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_3957

When we think of insects, images of stings, venoms, toxins and bites often flash into mind. Perhaps this is a natural outcome of interactions among people and the insect world. Insects have been selected to avoid becoming dietary fare of humans and large predators; and our own evolutionary history has imbued us with an aversion to pain or damage. Insect venoms and toxins represent potential harm to us and fall into the category of nasty things to be avoided. Biologically, venoms and toxins are contrastingly different. Venoms are physically injected into us while toxins are applied or sprayed onto our bodies, or are active upon ingestion. Toxins are poisons. Venoms are liquid blends of biologically active substances, usually including toxins, that are injected into the body via a stinger, fang, hollow spine or other mechanical delivery system. A sting is a highly specialized device whose function is the delivery of venom. Bites are associated with feeding and their defensive roles are...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin O. Schmidt
    • 1
  1. 1.Southwestern Biological InstituteTucsonUSA