Worst Stinging Bugs in Georgia

Georgia is filled with bugs, as I’m sure is apparent to anyone who has left their door open for 0.5 seconds in the summer. Many are harmless, like the crane fly (commonly known as the mosquito hawk) and several are beneficial, like the ladybug. But, of course, there are the stinging and biting insects that cause the Georgian population woe on a yearly basis. Some are painful, some last for a long time and some are downright cruel. This is a ranking of stinging insects from Georgia on how bad their stings are. 


  1. Bumble Bee

Bumble bees are an important part of the ecosystem and serve as pollinators where they exist. They are round and clumsy, and only the females sting. While they can sting more than once because they don’t have barbed stingers, they are not aggressive and tend to avoid humans and animals if they can. They also have been ranked as a one on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which is the lowest ranking. Therefore, being stung by a bumblebee is not terrible, and if someone is stung, they probably deserved it. 

  1. Honey Bee

Similar to the bumblebee, the honey bee is another beneficial pollinator. The difference is that bumblebees are larger and drink nectar directly from the source while honey bees bring nectar back to the hive to turn into honey. Honey bees are similar to bumble bees in terms of defense. They are not aggressive and only defend the hive when they feel threatened. They also have a barbed stinger so each bee can only sting once. However, because of this barbed stinger and the venom, they have more painful stings than bumble bees (a two on the pain scale). Therefore, they rank above bumble bees. 

Honey bees don’t pollinate tomatoes because their flowers don’t make nectar. (Photo by: John Severns)


  1. Fire ant

Fire ants are an invasive species that spread rapidly throughout the United States after being introduced. They live in large colonies and are an aggressive species that will often attack and kill small animals. That also means that they are prone to attacking humans. While they are only rated as a one on the pain scale, their strength comes in numbers. Their venom-filled stings can leave blisters that last up to 10 days.

Fire ants will band together and make a raft when there are floods or heavy rain. (Photo by: Stephen Ausmus)
  1. Hornet

Hornets are one of the three species on this list that fit into the category of “social wasps.” They are the largest of this group and live in nests that can become “as large as a basketball.” While they can sting multiple times and have a larger stinger than wasps, their sting is less painful than wasps because wasps have stronger venom.

Hornets are objectively scary. They mainly exist in the northern hemisphere. (Photo by: Gideon Pisante)
  1. Wasp

Wasps are the second of the three “social wasps,” which is fitting since it is in their name. Like hornets, they live in nests near man-made structures and can sting multiple times. Due to the more potent venom, they rank as a three on the pain scale, which means that their stings are more painful than hornets.

Photo caption: A red paper wasp landed on my leg once. I moved a little and it threatened to sting me. (Photo by Alvesgaspar)
  1. Yellow Jacket

The yellow jacket is the final member of the “social wasp” group. They are the most aggressive out of the three and are the most determined to cause pain to those they deem as threats. On top of painful stings, they also have a powerful bite that they use to latch onto their victims. Like the fire ant, they use their bite to act as an anchor as they sting over and over again.

Photo Caption: Similar to my wasp story, when I was young I stepped on a yellow jacket nest. Core memory.
  1. Puss Caterpillar

The puss caterpillar is an interesting addition to this list. Their sting comes from their toupee-like hair rather than a stinger. Despite this unconventional approach, they have one of the more painful stings. Their hair causes a burning rash that can hurt for an hour, and this ability follows them through metamorphosis. Their stings can also cover a larger area, and since they look like nice fluffy caterpillars, getting stung could be more unexpected.

Puss caterpillars do not turn into puss moths. They turn into southern flannel moths. (Photo by: Lose)
  1. Centipede

Centipedes are the ugly and vicious cousins of the lovely millipedes. Though they are not generally aggressive, their bites are ranked the highest on the pain scale at a 3.5. Since southerners seem to enjoy gardening and making their lawns look nice, those who do those things are the most likely to accidentally make a centipede feel threatened. Therefore, with the risk and the pain as the main factors, the centipede has the worst sting.

Chilopoda Latreille, 1817 (Filo gèn’)