Biology Question #2163
Trevin H., a 15 year old male from Rocklin asks on July 1, 2004,
I would like to know the chemical compostion of the venom in a yellow jacket wasp sting, the dosage of venom produced by a yellow jacket, and how much of each chemical in the venom.
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answered on July 1, 2004
Wasp venoms are complex mixtures containing simple organic molecules, proteins, peptides, and other bioactive elements. It's probably not possible to answer your question exactly correctly. According to the online Merck Manual, Vespid (wasp) venom contains phospholipase, hyaluronase, and a protein termed antigen 5. It has many other components as well, but these are the main ones that cause problems. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight; so the average adult can withstand more than 1000 stings, whereas 500 stings can kill a child. According to an Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet, "wasp venom contains a chemical alarm pheromone, released into the air, signaling guard wasps to come and sting whomever and whatever gets in their way."
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