Don't let stinging insects prevent you from enjoying the rest of summer
Late summer is a time when a lot of us are outside, enjoying the last of the warm weather before fall moves in. Unfortunately, it's also when bees, hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets are the most active.
According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), stinging insect species are usually preparing their queen for the upcoming winter and are more aggressive than earlier in the season.
Avoid these annoying insects and their painful stingers by following these tips:
- Wear light-colored clothing. Bright colors attract bees.
- Wear closed-toed shoes. While it's tempting to walk around your yard barefoot in the summer, some wasps make their nests in the ground and will sting you if stepped on.
- Avoid leaving sweet beverages and open garbage outside. Insects are attracted to sugary substances. Remember to look in your beverage before taking a drink.
- Avoid swatting at stinging insects. They sting primarily when threatened – try to stay still and calm.
If an insect nest is housed on your property, it's best to hire a professional exterminator. If you attempt to destroy the nest yourself, be sure to remember the following safety tips:
- Do not stand directly under an overhead nest.
- Use insect control sprays that allow you to shoot from a safe distance.
- Never burn or flood a nest – this can agitate the insects.
- Spray hives shortly after nightfall when the insects are least active.
The NPMS says more than 500,000 people are sent to the emergency room every year due to insect stings. Use caution around bees, and know how to react to symptoms if you do get stung.
- Mild reactions are the most common, including itching, redness, swelling, and irritation. No medical care is needed, but apply self-treatment if desired. You can use an ice pack for 20 minutes, take an antihistamine to relieve itching or take ibuprofen for pain relief.
- Severe reactions, like anaphylaxis, are sometimes fatal – often in the first half-hour. It's important to seek emergency medical assistance immediately if you have life-threatening symptoms such as labored breath, facial/neck swelling, confusion, hives, or a rapid heartbeat.