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Managing Stinging Insects Safely

Managing Stinging Insects Safely
"""Stinging insects are what?

Insects that sting have a sting (or stinger) at the back of their abdomen. These insects are ants, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, bumble bees, honey bees, and bumble bees. Many ants, though, lack stingers. Army ants and harvester ants, both of which are prevalent in the southern United States and western Canada, are two kinds that can sting. The sting is a modified egg-laying tube known as an aculeus that is attached to a venom sac (ovipositor). Therefore, if you were stung, a female insect was responsible. In North America, nearly 70% of all human stings are caused by yellow jacket wasps. Because of their yellow and black bodies, they are frequently mistaken for bees. The majority of stinging insects have many stinging points. The honey bee (worker bee), which has a barbed sting, is an exception. The sting and connected venom sac are torn out of the worker bee when it flees after stinging a human; they remain in the victim's skin until the bee dies.

Where are these insects to be found?

Insects can consume practically any form of energy, including plants, wood, meat, blood, even other insects, depending on the species. For instance, the Asian giant hornet or sparrow wasp, Vespa mandarinia, would look for both plants and other insects, such as beetles, caterpillars, and spiders, as a source of food. (Note: This hornet was called a ""murder hornet"" in a newspaper article in 2020 because it will attack other insect colonies for protein, including yellow jacket, paper wasp, and honey bee colonies.) These food sources are frequently close to nesting areas. Although each species could have a particular kind of favored nesting location, in general, nesting locations can be found anywhere and include: For example, inside walls, attics, or hollow trees (the entrance is usually a very small hole). nests that are suspended from trees or structures with overhangs, such eaves. In bushes, hedges, trees, or shrubs. In tires made of rubber, crates, cartons, abandoned cars, etc. Under shrubs, logs, rock heaps, and other safe areas. inside of ground-level tunnels dug by rodents or other creatures. Be aware that some insects can drill into wood or earth to create tunnels or extend the hole for their nest, while others can chew through ceilings and walls to gain access to neighboring rooms. Keep holes and entry places caulked and screen any ventilation openings to stop these stinging insects from entering buildings or other structures. Never attempt to remove the nest or hive by yourself. Different removal techniques will likely be required for each type of pest or circumstance. For this service, it is preferable to contact pest control experts.

Why be concerned with stinging insects?

Whether an insect sting occurs at work or at home, it is crucial to be ready for any potential ramifications. Pain, swelling, and skin redness surrounding the sting are typically the only transient side effects of most stings. Nevertheless, depending on where you are stung and whatever allergies you may have, the symptoms can occasionally be more severe, even lethal. If you get stung in the neck region around your throat, it could result in edema (swelling brought on by fluid accumulation in the tissues) and make breathing challenging. Always be alert of your surroundings if you are frightened or stung by a bee or wasp while you are driving, operating machinery or power tools, or are on a ladder. Pull over, get off the ladder, or stop working until you have evaluated the situation and decided whether it is safe to continue.

What are the risks to your health?

Even while it is customary to desire to know what kind of bug stung you, it is frequently difficult to be sure. Some insects (like the southern yellow jacket) do contain venom that is more lethal than other insects, whereas others are larger so they can carry more (but really less toxic) venom (such as the Asian giant hornet). However, the majority of people encounter local side effects such as pain, swelling, itching, and redness near the sting site. You may get painful mouth and throat stings if you accidentally ingest a wasp or bee (e.g., drinking a soft drink from a can that a wasp had entered). Some people report swelling that extends beyond the immediate vicinity of the sting site. There are no systemic effects, however they could have hives (effects in the body away from sting site like effects on breathing and blood flow). It can take a few days to recover from this minor allergic reaction. The area will be sore and uncomfortable but one should not give in to the temptation to scratch the stung area. Scratching may cause a break in the skin which could lead to an infection. In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction can occur. This situation is serious and can cause """"anaphylaxis"""" or anaphylactic shock. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can appear immediately (within minutes) or up to 30 minutes later. Symptoms to watch for include: Hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site. Swollen eyes and eyelids. Wheezing. Tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing. Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue. Dizziness or sharp drop in blood pressure. Shock. Unconsciousness or cardiac arrest. Although most deaths result from severe allergic reactions, some are caused by direct toxicity of the insect venom. Of those who die from a severe allergic reaction to a sting, half die within 30 minutes, and three-quarters within 45 minutes. This reaction can occur the first time you are stung or with subsequent stings. Watch for signs of this reaction. If you see any signs of reaction, or even if you are not sure, call or have a co-worker call emergency medical services (e.g., 911) right away. Also, get medical help if the sting is near the eyes, nose or throat. Stay with the person who has been stung to monitor their reaction. If you have experienced a severe allergic reaction to an insect sting in the past, you will likely experience a similar or worse reaction if stung again. Doctors will prescribe a bee sting kit (self-injectable syringe containing epinephrine) to allergic people so they can carry the medication with them at all times. For people who are hypersensitive to stings, wearing a medical alert bracelet will enable first aiders to respond promptly and appropriately to a sting victim who is unconscious. People who have been stung multiple times (such as when fleeing from a swarm or nest) can sometimes suffer serious health effects. While rare, death may occur. If you have been stung many, many times at once, stung severely, or are experiencing health effects talk to your doctor. You may need to have your health monitored over the next few days or week. Employers should be notified if a worker, especially one who works outdoors, has allergies to insect stings. Co-workers should be trained in emergency first aid, be aware of the signs of a severe reaction, and know how to use the bee sting kit (self-injectable epinephrine). Always carry a cellular phone in case you need emergency medical help.

What precautions can you take?

The best way to prevent stings is to avoid the insects. Leave the area, if possible. If there is a travelling swarm, they will likely leave within a few days. Note that insect repellent (""""bug spray"""") does not affect these stinging insects. Avoidance and awareness are the keys to not being stung. Before working at a site: Take a look around. Check to see if there are any visible signs of activity or a hive or nest. If you see a number of insects flying around, check to see if they are entering/exiting from the same hole or place. If so, it is likely a nest or a source of food. Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and closed-toed boots or shoes. If you cannot avoid working near bees or wasps, wear a bee-keepers style hat with netting to cover your head, neck and shoulders. Tape your pant legs to your boots/socks, and your sleeves to your gloves. You may also wish to wear an extra layer of clothing since wasp stings are long enough to reach through one layer of clothing. Power tools such as lawnmowers, weed eaters and chainsaws will aggravate the insects. When using these tools, be aware that the tools may provoke the insects or in some cases, cause the insects to swarm. If you find you are working near stinging insects, here are some tips. Most bees and wasps will not sting unless they are startled or attacked. Do not swat at them or make fast movements. The best option is to keep your distance, move away from the nest, or let the insects fly away on their own. If you must, walk away slowly, or gently """"blow"""" them away. The only exception is if you have disturbed a nest and hear """"wild"""" buzzing. Protect your face with your hands and run from the area immediately. Seek shelter in a closed vehicle or building, entering in a way to keep the insects outside. Wear light coloured clothes such as khakis, beige, or blue. Avoid brightly coloured, patterned, or black clothing. Tie back long hair to avoid bees or wasps from getting entangled in your hair. Be careful when shaking out clothing or towels as the insects could be inside the folds. If you find a bee or wasp in your car, stop and leave the windows open. You may also take a thick cloth and cover the insect before it gets frightened. Carefully, let the insect back outside through an open window. What not to do: Do not wear perfumes, colognes, scented soaps, or powders as they contain fragrances that are attractive. Do not go barefoot or wear sandals, especially in areas where there is clover or other flowering plants that attract bees.

What else can be done?

Management of outdoor food sources is very important. Some insects, such as the yellow jacket look for different types of food at different times of the year. In the spring, they require more protein for the new larvae and may be more attracted to other insects but also to meats and pet food. By late summer, they are more interested in high sugar foods such as fruit, candy, and pop (soft drinks). Empty and wash out garbage cans regularly. Fit garbage cans with a tight lid. If there will be a lot of people present during the day (such as at an amusement park, fair or sporting event), empty the cans or dumpsters in the morning. When the garbage will have """"attractive"""" properties (such as pop cans, or candy wrappers), empty the garbage several times a day. Locate the food areas away from where crowds of people are. Clean the drink dispensing machines regularly. Screen-in food stations where possible. Locate trash cans away from the food dispensing windows and eating areas. Minimize the time where the food is available by keeping it tightly covered. Clear away any scraps and dirty dishes right away. Serve sweet drinks in containers with lids and straws. Wasps will often crawl into pop cans and can be """"drank"""" unintentionally. Keep your thumb over the can opening if a container with a lid is not available. If there are fruit trees nearby, clean up any fallen fruit. Keep pet food inside the house.

What should you do if you are stung?

Wasps and hornets do not leave their sting in you, and so they can sting repeatedly. Honey bees can sting only once and will leave the sting (and venom sac plus some other parts) stuck in the skin at the sting site. The sting, if present, should be removed right away since the venom can still be injected for up to a minute after the bee detaches from its sting. Try removing the sting by scraping sideways with your fingernail, a credit card or other stiff card. Try not to squeeze the bee venom sac as that action will release more venom. However, you might have to use tweezers if the venom sac breaks off leaving the sting in the skin. All stings hurt. A normal (or """"localized"""") reaction to the venom from a sting is redness of the skin, swelling, severe itching (pruritis), and a burning or stabbing pain. The longer the sting is in the skin, the more will be the effect of the venom being injected. An application of ice (wrapped in a towel to prevent freezing the skin), anti-itch cream and/or an antihistamine pill can help reduce the effects of the sting."""
 

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"Managing Stinging Insects Safely" was written by Mary under the Health category. It has been read 59 times and generated 0 comments. The article was created on and updated on 18 November 2022.
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