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Venomous and Poisonous Mean the Same Thing, Right?

A method of defense used by some bugs and insects is the ability to create and distribute toxins to hunt prey or fend off would-be predators. We often describe these organisms as venomous and poisonous interchangeably, but do these terms mean the same thing? Let’s find out in this month’s fact or fake.

When it comes to self-defense in the insect world, creatures with venomous and poisonous capabilities have quite the advantage. Take spiders and scorpions, for example. Species of each are outfitted with venom-filled stingers and fangs to deliver their toxins to prey or use against predators. Conversely, some species of monarch butterflies and stinging caterpillars transmit poisons inherent in their system simply by touch or ingestion by another animal. While all of this can cause possible injury to insects and humans alike, the main difference in the terminology between venomous and poisonous lies in how the toxins are delivered.

Similar to spiders and scorpions, other insects including wasps, bees, and ants are considered venomous because they inject their venom into others to transmit it. Venom is produced in glands attached to fangs or stingers to either immobilize or use defensively against predators – including people.

On the other hand, stinging caterpillars and some species of butterflies and moths deliver toxins without the need to inject their victims. Instead, these insects are considered poisonous because portions of their bodies laced with toxic materials that are dangerous if touched or eaten. Contact with the toxic chemicals in these insects can cause pain, irritation and even vomiting in humans.

Whether you’re dealing with venomous or poisonous insects, leave the identification and treatment to the professionals. Contact your local Orkin professional to schedule an inspection and customize a plan that’s right for you.

“What is the Difference Between Venomous and Poisonous?” Thought Co.