Stolley Park
Veterinary Hospital

3020 W. Stolley Park Road  Grand Island, Nebraska  68801  
Phone:  308-384-6272   Fax:  308-384-0984

July Newsletter
Insect Hazards


Fireflies/Lightning Bugs: This hallmark summer insect has been known to cause problems in our domestic pets. Most commonly affected are reptiles, specifically bearded dragons. The ingestion of one firefly can actually kill a bearded dragon in just a few minutes to an hour. Signs include head shaking, open mouth, attempts to vomit and cyanosis. So while it seems like a fun idea to feed one to your pet lizard, this is obviously not advisable. As for our furry friends, there is no specific research indicating the toxicity of these glowing bugs in dogs and cats, but incidents of upset stomach have been reported. It seems to be dose dependent—so the more they gorge, the greater likelihood of vomiting. They do not appear to be fatal in mammals.

Wasps/Bees/Hornets: Stinging insects can cause anything from a painful welt at the site of the sting to a fatal anaphylactic allergic reaction. Often, a bee or wasp sting will cause facial swelling and hives (usually in dogs) which can be alarming to both the pet and the “parent”. If this happens to your pet and no immediate care is available, an antihistamine is often the first line of defense. As long as your pet is breathing normally, a dose of Benadryl may be just what the doctor ordered until medical care can be administered.

Spider bites: Although spiders are not technically an insect, we’ll include them here because they are a frequent summertime visitor in our area. Most spiders are not poisonous, either to eat or to be bitten by. Brown recluse and black widows are not known to be found in high populations in our area of Nebraska. However, any “insect” bite can lead to an allergic reaction, so similar signs to the ones mentioned above may occur.

Botflies: Cuterebra fly larvae can infest the skin of dogs and cats (usually cats) and burrow a hole into the surface of the skin. Owners normally notice a small hole in the skin, or an abscess like bump with a tiny puncture wound, and can occasionally see “something moving” inside the hole. The larva need to be extracted carefully and usually under sedation, because crushing of the insect can leave parts in the wound that would impede healing. In rare cases, crushing of the larva can cause an allergic reaction that can be fatal.

The bottom line is, most insects are not terribly hazardous to your pet’s health, but allergic reactions and upset stomach are possible in some cases of exposures. If you have any concerns after an exposure, please contact us, we’re always happy to help!