oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Insects - diversity and allergy : review article

Volume 18 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



The class Insecta belongs to the superclass Hexapoda (six-legged arthropods) of the phylum Arthropoda (joint-legged animals). Approximately 50 000 of the 800 000 - 1 000 000 currently described species occur in South Africa, belonging to 28 of 30 insect orders. This huge biodiversity is a natural treasure to South Africa as many species are important pollinators or provide useful compounds (honey, silk). However, some insects have a negative impact on human health because they are vectors of diseases that affect millions of people. In addition, insects can cause allergic or adverse reactions in humans. Reactions have been noted in the following insect orders Zygentoma (silverfish), Blattodea (cockroaches), Phasmatodea (stick insects), Orthoptera (locusts, crickets), Phthiraptera (lice), Hemiptera (true bugs, cicadas), Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies, mosquitoes), Siphonaptera (fleas), Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths) and Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants). Specific IgE responses can be quantified using the UniCAP System (Pharmacia Diagnostics AB, Uppsala, Sweden).

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