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Poisonous animals
Cnidarians (Jellyfish, Corals and Anemones)
Venomous fish
Hymenopterans (Bees, Wasps and Ants)
Sea snakes
Terrestrial snakes
Miscellaneous animals

Table 3.3 Identification of the cause in accidents with terrestrial arthropods

  Distribution Biological characteristics Circumstances of envenoming
Risk Incidence

Diagnosis & Treatment,
Biomedical database

throughout the world from tropical to temperate zones; dangerous species in the southwest of the USA, Mexico,
Central America,
South America, North Africa,
South Africa, Middle East, India

the head and body are fused, the tail is markedly narrower, body segmented; 4 pairs of legs, 1 pair of large pincers on the head; tail consists of 5 segments and the venomous sting; live hidden on the ground or in vegetation or under bark; also found in loose brickwork and often in human habitations; nocturnal

stings painful, usually on the feet or hands, while walking barefoot and during careless handling of the animals; accidents occur outdoors as well as indoors, where scorpions like to search out damp places or crawl between the sheets or in clothes lying around or inside shoes

stings from some species are potentially life-threatening; venom effects: predominantly neurological effects

in Mexico, Trinidad, Brazil, North Africa, the Middle East and India they are a common cause of serious accidents with venomous/poisonous animals

Diagnosis & Treatment,
Biomedical database

throughout the world; dangerous species chiefly in tropical and warm regions

the head and thorax form a single unit (cephalothorax), to which 4 pairs of legs are attached, 2 venomous fangs in the mouth region; the abdomen is separated from the cephalothorax by a narrow "waist" (pedicel); no further body segmentation;
live on the ground in vegetation and in human habitations; diurnal and nocturnal

bites from dangerous species usually painful, although sometimes barely noticeable; accidents occur outdoors and indoors; some Bird spiders have urticating hairs that can be thrown off and can lead to irritation of the mucous membranes and the eyes

envenoming caused by some species can take a severe systemic course or lead to local necrosis; venom effects: predominantly local or neurological effects

envenoming caused by dangerous species is less common than scorpion bites or bee or wasp stings

Biomedical database

envenoming most commonly known to occur in North America and Australia;
outside of these regions only isolated cases have been verified

small head fused with the body; body not divided or segmented; 4 pairs of legs; as ectoparasites they bite humans and attach themselves firmly while sucking blood for a long period; during this time the abdomen swells enormously

envenoming is caused by toxic substances in the saliva, but only in certain populations of ticks; it is barely noticeable when they bite and attach; symptoms progress over several days

severe neurotoxic envenoming with ascending paralysis possible

envenoming rare

Hymenopterans (Bees, Wasps and Ants)
Diagnosis & Treatment,
Biomedical database

throughout the world from tropical to cold climates

body divided into head, thorax and abdomen, last two segmented; 3 pairs of legs and 2 pairs of transparent, membranous wings on the thorax; wings only rarely seen in ants; venomous sting on the posterior section of the abdomen; diurnal; form colonies

painful stings; multiple stings possible, particularly close to the nest

with single stings local effects; however, allergic persons may suffer autopharmacological effects and possibly anaphylactic shock; with multiple stings (several hundred or thousand) severe envenoming with haematological effects possible 

hymenoptera stings are the most common cause of accidents with venomous/ poisonous animals altogether; allergic reactions are common; severe envenoming due to multiple stings is rare

Lepidopterans (Butterflies and Caterpillars)
Biomedical database

severe intoxication due to butterflies in particular in the tropical Americas; caterpillars with urticating hairs found worldwide; most dangerous species in the tropics of South America

elongated body divided into a head, thorax and abdomen; 3 pairs of legs and 2 pairs of large wings that are covered in tiny scales; in species that can cause envenoming, the body and wings are thickly covered with urticating hairs; caterpillars of many species are also covered with clearly discernible urticating hairs

envenoming caused by contact or inhalation; as a consequence of mass occurrences of medically relevant species the air is filled with urticating hairs

primarily local effects; rarely also systemic effects with renal failure

epidemic outbreaks in particular regions

Coleopterans (Beetles)
Biomedical database

throughout the world; in particular in arid and semi-arid zones

as with all insects the body is divided into three (head, thorax, abdomen) with 3 pairs of legs; 2 pairs of wings, although the forewings are usually in the form of hard shield-like protective wings


envenoming caused by secreted body fluids (not perceptible initially) or after crushing these beetles on the skin; causes erythema and blistering; if the venom enters the eye, conjunctivitis

generally only local effects


Biomedical database

larger dangerous species primarily in tropical Asia

elongated, uniformly segmented body; body dorsoventrally oblate; some species up to 20 cm or longer; each body segment carries a pair of legs (except the last two); depending on the species, 15 to far more than 100 pairs of legs; 2 powerful venom claws in the head region; nocturnal, during the day they hide under stones, wood and the like

painful bites by means of the powerful venom claws

local effects; in rare cases neurological effects also possible

envenoming rare