Bug venoms and poisons pack a more powerful punch than you would expect from
such small animals. Some bugs are venomous, some are poisonous and some are
Venoms are toxic fluids that must be injected to take effect. Venomous bugs use
their venom to either kill or paralyse their prey, or to defend against
attackers. They inject the chemical into the body of their victim using fangs
or a sting.
Venomous animals will only use their venom when it is necessary. Scorpions, for
instance, will not waste their venom on their smaller prey.
Humans that are bitten or stung by a venomous bug can experience breathing
problems, skin inflammation, tissue damage and, in extreme cases, death. The
most dangerous venoms for humans contain neurotoxins. They stop the brain’s
messages from reaching the rest of the body, preventing the muscles from
working and causing paralysis.
Centipedes are venomous. Their two front legs have been modified into pincers to
inject venom into prey, such as insects, slugs, worms and occasionally small
lizards. Their venom is not especially toxic to humans. A sting usually results
in only minor pain and swelling. In fact, centipedes are eaten in some cultures
and are an important protein source.
A poison is a toxic substance that must be eaten or absorbed through the skin to
take effect. Bugs only use poisons for self-defence. They use it to either make
themselves distasteful to a predator or to make the predator sick.
Some poisonous bugs manufacture their poison inside their bodies, while others
eat poisonous plants to obtain the required chemicals. Touching a poisonous bug
may cause human skin to blister. If the bug is ingested, it may cause death.
Millipedes are poisonous. They are herbivores, or plant-eaters, and don't have
venomous fangs. They cannot hurt you if you pick them up and handle them, but
you would get very sick if you ate one. Some millipedes are capable of
producing a toxic fluid, but generally the only effect of this fluid is an