But forget sharks if you’re worried about a deadly summer encounter. You’re much more likely to be killed by something that’s just half an inch long and nearly weightless: a bee.
The odds of being killed by a shark are about 1 in 3.7 million. The odds of being killed by a sting from a bee, wasp, or hornet are 1 in 79,842, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between 2001 and 2011 (the last year for which the center has numbers), 639 people died from stings by these winged insects in the United States. That’s an average of 58 deaths per year. In that same period, 10 people were killed by sharks in the U.S., according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released numbers about workplace deaths, including by winged insects. Between 2003 and 2010, 83 people were killed by bugs on the job, the majority due to bee stings. Most victims worked outdoors, as farmers, construction workers, or landscapers.
Stings from bees, wasps, and hornets are not lethal, but they can be when they trigger an allergic reaction. Without emergency treatment, the most severe reactions can lead to anaphylactic shock and then death within minutes.