This year, whilst bike riding, I was stung two times by insects, one time a bee and once by a wasp (most likely; I didn't see it but from the feeling, size and heat of the stung area I can't think of anything else).
After some research on different websites (https://www.roadbikerider.com/bee-stings-and-how-to-deal-with-them-d1/ / https://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/1080561-insect-stings-while-riding.html) this has happened to others, though I never heard about it before. I only heard about insects getting into helmets, but my stings were on the lower arm through a longsleeve and the other one on the shinbone.
Now I am asking myself, why/how is this happening? Do insects feel threatened by bike riders and attack them? Are they smashed into riders when there is heavy wind? When going too fast on a bike and "overtake" an insect, do you ride into their sting?
I was riding on a road bike with an average 30 km/h both times with one time heavy headwind.

  • 1
    I've never been bitten in my life, riding a bike or not, maybe you lucked out and just collided with an insect at the right angle to get sting ?
    – Max
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 10:42
  • 2
    My guess is a combination of the headwind and your speed, wrong place at the wrong time kind of situation where you and the bug just happened to collide, they felt threatened by the impact and stung you as a result.
    – Nate W
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 15:41
  • 1
    @NateW No. Stinging requires the insect to land on you and insert its stinger, which is at the rear its body. In a collision, the insect will just bounce off you and be long gone by the time it has time to react. (Purely anecdotally, I'm pretty sure I hit a bumblebee recently. The impact was much heavier than a normal fly, and it left a bright orange-yellow pollen stain on my arm. I wasn't stung.) Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 22:02
  • 1
    I think it would be possible, not probable, that one could hit and remain rather than bounce of depending on the angle impact (did you hit his back or did they see it about to happen and land feet first) and factors such as hair, long sleeve shirt fabric, etc where they would have enough traction to hold on
    – Nate W
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 22:30
  • 1
    Riding in winter solves the problem as all insects are sleeping or dead. Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 13:18

6 Answers 6


It happened twice to me to be stung:

  • once a wasp entered from the neck under my loose shirt, and being trapped between the fabric and my chest didn't find anything better than stinging me.
  • another time I was cycling along the coast and felt a sudden burn between my thumb and my pointing finger. Something stingy was there and had the idea of sticking its harpoon into my flesh.

And if we don't consider stinging but insect accident in general...

  • another time, while I was speeding downhill, a bumblebee loaded with pollen splashed onto my glasses. Not painful for me, but my face was half covered with a yellowish goo.
  • while panting for a climb, some mosquito decided that my mouth was a nice place to rest (forever)

Now, I ride for more than 30 years, so I would dare to say, based on my sole experience, that mishap with insect are rare but can happen, and if they feel threatened they fight back.

Wear tight shirt to avoid them being trapped between the clothing and your skin, keep your mouth closed as much as possible, and wear glasses to protect your eyes. That should do for most of the cases.


I agree with Nate W on this one. In all my rides, either through forests or in the open air trails, I have never had a problem with being stung/bitten. I usually have a short sleeve biking jersey on and have never had a problem. I would say, worst case, if it is really a problem and you think the bugs are out for ya, you could throw on another layer of protection. Good luck, I hope you find a solution!


Well, this happened to me once when I hit a bee hive with my head, and another time when my group took a rest, and the fire ants decided to join us. Flying into the sting of an insect is unlikely because for most of them, their stinger retracts, and they only push it out when they want to sting. Ive had an assortment of bugs hit me while Im riding, and if there is heavy wind, theres nothing they can do. Insects usually dont want to attack unless they feel threatened (just like most other animals) so just steering clear and keep moving would work the best. Having one fly into a jersey or helmet sucks a lot, so just take it off, dont try to shake it out.

  • Well, this happened to me once when I hit a bee hive with my head I literally LOL'd at that. GoPro video or it didn't happen! :-D Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 22:50
  • hahaha yeah my friend was riding behind me when it happened. Idk if he still has the video tho. When we got back to the trailhead, he was like "Dude, I saw you hit that and i thought it was just a branch or something, but then you started doing some weird a** karate s*** with youur hand, and thats when I realized that you were trying to hit something". I was waving my hand around to get them to leave (i guess) and he was like "dude wtf are you doing?" Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 13:04

I had this only once, but the way it happened was quite suggestive: A wasp seemed to have landed on my forearm while I was waiting at the traffic lights without me taking notice. When I accelerated, the wasp was trapped on my skin by the slowly increasing head wind until it became so uncomfortable that it decided it needed to do something about the situation, so it stung.

The point is: The headwind is enough to a) trap any insect on your skin, and b) to make insects panic. How they end up on your skin does not matter, it suffices that they are there, and if the insect is able of stinging, it will.

Thus, I guess the only way to avoid being stung by insects is to avoid them getting onto your skin. Unfortunately, I have no clue about how to do this (short of not riding at temperatures where bees/wasps can fly, that is). However, if you are riding in an area with many bees/wasps, it might be a good idea to cover your mouth to avoid getting one into your throat. Because a bee on your arm is a nuisance, a bee in your throat can be deadly.


I got stung yesterday by either a bee or a wasp while riding home. It flew into my face at high speed, hit my lip very hard and stung me at the same time. I'd assume that it was intentional though I can't see why it needed to attack.

It was still painful and swollen. This is the second year I got hit and stung when riding. I am not sure if the season or time of the day is a factor though I do notice a lot more bugs flying at the time, around 6 pm. I guess it is just one of those hazard you have to live with.

  • Welcome to the site! I'm not sure this really answers the question, as it's more of a personal anecdote than an answer to how and why stings happen. There's not much to be gained by everyone posting how many times they've been stung by insects. Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 12:03
  • Welcome to Bicycles! Our goal as a Q/A site (rather than an typical forum) is to have detailed and relevant answers to fairly specific questions. Your answer has been flagged as "Not an Answer" or is getting downvoted by the community because it either doesn't answer the question, or doesn't add valuable information given the answers that already exist. Please see the Tour for an overview of how this and other Stack Exchange sites work. Answers like this will often be deleted or converted to comments, but we hope you will stick around, become an active user and contribute to the site.
    – Gary.Ray
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 13:29
  • @DavidRicherby most of the answers seem to be personal anecdotes, including the one I made 6 months ago.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 10:10

Last time while riding, I swallowed a bug. I had to stop and start coughing until the good guy went out. Crazy but it happens. Then yesterday, I got a stung by a wasp in the eye. It was the worst ever. I had to return home to put some ice on it. For my bad luck, I was wearing prescription glasses. I don't know if wearing wayfarer prescription sunglasses are good cycling and preventing bugs collide. I have one and sometimes while riding I use them very often. enter image description here

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