Nearly half of the world's population harbors helminth infections or suffers from allergic disorders. A common feature of this population is the so-called "type 2 immune response," which confers protection against helminths, but also promotes pathologic responses associated with allergic inflammation. However, the mechanisms that initiate and control type 2 responses remain enigmatic. Recent advances have revealed a role for the innate immune system in orchestrating type 2 responses against a bewildering array of stimuli, from nanometer-sized allergens to 20-meter-long helminth parasites. Here, we review these advances and suggest that the human immune system has evolved multiple mechanisms of sensing such stimuli, from recognition of molecular patterns via innate immune receptors to detecting metabolic changes and tissue damage caused by these stimuli.