The HIT Study: Hymenoptera Identification Test - How Accurate are People at Identifying Stinging Insects?

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Background Stinging insects in the order Hymenoptera include bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and ants. Hymenoptera sting injuries range from localized swelling to rarely death. Insect identification is helpful in the management of sting injuries. Objective To determine the accuracy of adults in identifying stinging insects and 2 insect nests. Methods This was a cross-sectional, multicenter study using a picture-based survey to evaluate an individual's success at identifying honeybees, wasps, bald-face hornets, and yellow jackets. Bald-face hornet and paper wasp nest identification also was assessed in this study. Results Six hundred forty participants completed the questionnaire. Overall, the mean number of correct responses was 3.2 (SD 1.3) of 6. Twenty participants (3.1%) correctly identified all 6 stinging insects and nests and only 10 (1.6%) were unable to identify any of the pictures correctly. The honeybee was the most accurately identified insect (91.3%) and the paper wasp was the least correctly identified insect (50.9%). For the 6 questions regarding whether the participant had been stung in the past by any of the insects (including an unidentified insect), 91% reported being stung by at least 1. Men were more successful at identify stinging insects correctly (P =.002), as were participants stung by at least 4 insects (P =.018). Conclusion This study supports the general perception that adults are poor discriminators in distinguishing stinging insects and nests with the exception of the honeybee. Men and those participants who reported multiple stings to at least 4 insects were more accurate overall in insect identification. © 2014 American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



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