It’s officially summer time—the season of backyard barbeques, pool parties and campfires. But, with a general uptick in time spent outdoors during the warmer months comes an increased risk of encountering yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and other stinging insects.
Stinging insects are most active in the summer and early fall as they forage for food, which is why we frequently see them abuzz around our properties this time of year. Reports state that stinging insects send more than half a million people to the emergency room every year, so it’s important to take the proper precautions to keep them at bay, especially during outdoor gatherings with family and friends where food and drinks are often abundant.
Heed the following expert advice from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) on stinging insect prevention:
- Seal all visible cracks and crevices to keep stinging insects from moving indoors, and regularly inspect around the perimeter of the home for nests.
- During a picnic, cover all food when outside and be sure to keep tight fitting lids on trash bins. If a stinging insect tries to land on your food, do not swat at it.
- Drink out of clear containers, as stinging insects can sneak into aluminum cans unnoticed.
- If spending long periods of time outdoors, skip the perfume, cologne or scented body wash in favor of unscented shampoos, soaps and lotions. Yellowjackets and other stinging insects are attracted to sweet-smelling fragrances.
- Wear closed-toe shoes, especially in grassy areas where hornets and other pests often nest.
- If you find a stinging insect nest on the property, don’t attempt to remove it on your own. Instead, contact a licensed pest control professional.
If You Get Stung
If you find yourself stung by one of these insects, wash the area immediately with soap and cold water. Then, hold a cold compress such as an ice pack to the stung area. If the sting is on a limb, elevate it. If needed, over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain, while an antihistamine and hydrocortisone ointment can help calm the local reaction. If the local reaction worsens, visit your doctor. They can prescribe an oral steroid or antihistamine to help lessen the reaction.
There is a plethora of traditional home remedies that have been suggested for stings including damp pastes made of tobacco, salt, baking soda, toothpaste, clay, garlic, window cleaner, onions, aspirin or even copper coins taped over the sting. There is little concrete evidence to support the use of these remedies. The truth is that neutralizing a sting is unlikely because the venom is injected under the skin and into the tissue, where anything that is topically applied will not readily penetrate.
In rare cases, about 3 percent of the population experience a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. These reactions can be life threatening and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include generalized itching, rashes or hives, tightness or swelling in the throat, upset stomach, including pain, nausea and vomiting, as well as dizziness. In one percent of anaphylaxis cases, people may experience severe shortness of breath, a drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and shock. Insect stings are the number one cause of anaphylaxis related deaths in the United States.
If you notice stinging insects around your home or business, we can help. Our team will provide a free inspection of your property and create a plan to eliminate these pests. Simply fill out this form and a team member will be in touch.