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Author Topic: Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear?  (Read 10688 times)

Evil Eye Monster

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Evil Eye Monster asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear? (like a bombardier)

Does it have anything to do with how they paralyse smaller prey?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 29/11/2011 00:30:02 by _system »


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear?
« Reply #1 on: 28/11/2011 18:52:59 »
I have never been stung behind my ear.
 

Offline Don_1

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Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear?
« Reply #2 on: 29/11/2011 10:53:24 »
So far as I am aware, wasps do not target their sting on humans or other large animals. If they feel trapped or threatened, they will sting there and then, regardless of where they are.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear?
« Reply #3 on: 29/11/2011 11:18:38 »
I have, on occasion, swatted something that was buzzing around my ear. 

A fly, or mosquito is safe to swat into one's head. 
If you do the same thing with a bee, invariably you will get stung on, or around your ear.

As I've gotten older and a little wiser...  I've stopped swatting bees into my ears!!!

I did have the occasion to walk into an underground bees nest that I was unaware of this summer.  I believe I got stings on any exposed skin including around my head as well as on my arms.  Fortunately I was a few yards from a river and had left my wallet back at my campsite, so I went for an unplanned swim.
 

Offline Supercryptid

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Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear?
« Reply #4 on: 30/11/2011 05:36:22 »
I don't recall ever being stung on my head. I've been taken in the arm, hand and leg before by paper wasps.
 

Offline Evil Eye

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Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear?
« Reply #5 on: 30/11/2011 22:27:30 »
Although this is only anecdotal to me and other people around me... "nearly" every time I have ever been stung, (which is often in my farm work), it never happens anywhere else on my head except directly behind my ear right in the soft tissue. (near the beginning of the mandible of the jaw). That is why I asked the question. Thanks for your replies. I hope to hear whether there is any science behind it, or if it is just coincidence.

(ETA) - only edited for adding the word "is", correcting an "it it".
« Last Edit: 30/11/2011 22:31:36 by Evil Eye »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear?
« Reply #6 on: 30/11/2011 22:44:22 »
You need to ask why you were stung.

I don't ever remember being stung sitting at a picnic table, although occasionally one has to shoo bees away from one's food.

As I mentioned, I've been stung a couple of times because of swatting bees that were buzzing my ears.  That is what I think may have happened to you, but usually one would remember those actions.  It is possible that the face is somewhat avoided due to aerodynamics and people naturally protecting their face.

And, I was also stung multiple times recently because of accidentally invading a bees nest. 

The most common places I can think of getting stung is on the arms (not protected by clothing), and along the back of the neck, between the hairline and the collar of one's clothing.  But, if you get them angry enough, they will come at you anywhere including the scalp.

For some reason, some animals such as bears and skunks can EAT bees nests.
 

Offline Evil Eye

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Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear?
« Reply #7 on: 30/11/2011 23:25:29 »
I've been stung just by walking near an active nest, while weed-whacking or trimming near them, or simply chased down by a single rogue wasp that seemed to be angry. I have no answer. Except my anecdote of the sting almost always being behind the ear as I described. The only time I've ever been stung on the neck is while swatting, or on the hand if I inadvertently was clipping shrubs where they nested. But even then... if the colony was disturbed, the most often place I was stung was in that exact spot in the soft tissue right behind the ear under the lobe.

(ETA) I wouldn't even ask the question if it seemed random. I'm not trying to confirm anything using my bias. I just want to know if there may be a reason for it I don't know about or if it is common. I'm being skeptical of myself and at the same time seeing a pattern. (no.. I don't wear any cologne or perfume, nor do I wear any particularly bright clothes.)
I'm bald and wear random t-shirts and cargo shorts. (I live in Florida U.S.A.)
« Last Edit: 30/11/2011 23:30:18 by Evil Eye »
 

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Why do wasps nearly always sting directly behind the ear?
« Reply #7 on: 30/11/2011 23:25:29 »

 

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