by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Insect allergies are an abnormal reaction to insects. It may be a reaction to:
Reactions can range from mild to severe.
It is not known what causes allergies to start. An abnormal immune system reaction is what causes the symptoms. Venom from a sting or fluid from a bite may start the reaction.
Common stinging insects linked with allergies include:
Common biting insects linked with allergies include:
Insects that leave debris in the house that cause reactions include:
These insects can cause reactions all year long. They can also set off asthma.
Factors that may increase your chance of insect allergies include:
Symptoms will depend on the type of allergy.
A bite or sting can cause:
Stings or bites can cause severe reactions. It is rare but can be deadly. The reaction called anaphylaxis can cause:
Insects that live in the house can cause problems in the respiratory system. In this case, symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect an allergy based on how your body reacted to a bite or sting. A doctor that specializes in allergies can help.
Tests for an allergy may include:
Some reactions cause trouble breathing. If this is the case, call for emergency medical services right away.
General treatment may include:
Allergy shots may help to decrease or stop an allergic reaction. It is done with a series of shots. Each shot has a very tiny amount of insect venom. It allows your body to get used to the venom. It may be used for severe allergies to honeybees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, or fire ants.
If you have had severe reactions:
There are no steps to keep you from developing allergies. However, you may be able to prevent flare-ups. To help reduce risk of insect bite or sting:
If you have had an allergic reaction to insects around the home:
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Allergic rhinitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Updated July 9, 2018. Accessed October 1, 2018.
Hymenoptera sting allergy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated April 6, 2017. Accessed October 1, 2018.
Insect sting allergy. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed October 1, 2018.
Rank MA, Li JT. Allergen immunotherapy. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007;82(9):1119-1123.
Venom immunotherapy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Updated June 21, 2018. Accessed October 1, 2018.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 7/21/2020
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