Insect stings are uncomfortable and can often be distressing particularly if you are allergic to bee or wasp stings.
However, you can reduce the risk of being stung by getting rid of a wasp nest in or near your home, with the assistance of a pest control professional, whilst also taking some basic precautions when outdoors.
Insect stings should not be confused with insect bites.
Stinging insects such as wasps, hornets and bees use their sting as a defense mechanism, for the most part. They will only sting if they feel threatened. This can range anywhere from being in close proximity to their nest to aggravating and annoying them.
When it comes to stinging insects, only the females can sting. When a wasp stings she injects venom into or under your skin. This has an immediate effect causing a sharp, burning sensation. The same can be said for both hornets and bees.
Allergic reactions develop as a result of the venom not the sting or the insect themselves.
While wasps and hornets sting to defend themselves, biting insects (such as bed bugs) attack to feed on your blood. To give the insect time to feed, insect bites have evolved so that the pain is not as sharp as a sting (although the bite of a Horse fly is very painful), leaving the insect unnoticed whilst feeding upon you.
Wasps are the most aggressive out of all the stinging insects. They can sting you with little provocation.
However wasps won’t go out of their way to sting you. They will only sting if you either go too close to their nest, or you agitate them in some way.
The most common sting suffered from an insect is a wasp sting. Because their stinger has a smooth outer lining wasps can sting multiple times with ease.
Wasp sting symptoms
How to treat a wasp sting
People can become victim to an allergic reaction to a wasp sting by their body reacting negatively to the venom injected. Severe allergic reactions to wasp stings are referred to as “anaphylaxis”.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a wasp sting
Compared to wasps, hornets are quite timid, only stinging if their nest is threatened. However a hornet's venom is much more powerful than that of a wasps. Because of this a hornet's sting is much more painful than that of a wasp or bee.
The most painful stings from a stinging insect comes from a hornet.
Hornet sting symptoms
How to treat a hornet sting
Because the venom in a hornet sting is a lot strong that a wasps and bees, a much more severe allergic reaction can occur.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a hornet sting
If you have any of the above symptoms within 30 minutes from a bee, wasp or hornet sting then call an ambulance immediately as you could go into anaphylactic shock.
Bees are much less likely to sting you than wasps and hornets. The most common reason for stinging is being sat or stood on. The key sign of a bee sting is a small stinger lodged inside the skin.
Unlike that of a wasp or hornets a bee’s stinger is barbed. Because of this after inflicting a sting a bee’s stinger can become trapped in your skin. As the bee tries to fly away it inevitable rips its stinger from its abdomen, causing the bee to die. This leaves the stinger and the venom sack trapped in your skin, the venomous sac will continue to pump venom for more than a minute.
Once stung by a bee, the area around the sting will quickly become red and a raised weal (fluid under the skin) will form. The weal will reduce after a few hours, but it may remain itchy for more than a day.
Getting stung by a bee can be quite painful, especially if you have a bee sting allergy.
Bee sting symptoms
How to treat a bee sting
Below are a list of symptoms which can be linked to an allergic reaction to a bee sting.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a bee sting
If you know you are sensitive to wasp, bee, and hornet stings you should take care to minimise the risk of being stung. There are practical steps that we can all take to avoid stings.
Never try to swat wasps or bees. This will only aggravate them more, increasing the posibility of them stinging you.
Do not wave your arms and try not to panic as this will also excite the insect. If you enter an area with many stinging insects, walk calmly and slowly away to avoid wasp stings.
Some people are much more sensitive to hornet and wasp stings than others. Young children tend to be particularly sensitive to insect stings.
However, the key group at risk are the three percent of the population who suffer from an allergic reaction to wasp, hornet, and bee stings.
An allergic reaction to an insect sting can develop at any time, even if a reaction hasn’t occurred during previous stings.
For those who suffer from a more moderate allergic reaction to insect stings, there may be more general swelling around the wound. Consult your doctor if the swelling is severe or persistent.
Those stung by a wasp or bee on multiple occasions in previous years are at higher risk of developing an allergy to insect stings. Generally those who develop large local reactions to insect stings continue to have similar reactions to subsequent stings.
Anaphylaxis is a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to a hornet, wasp or bee sting. Signs pointing towards anaphylaxis responses to insect stings include swelling, hives and lowered blood pressure. In severe cases, a person can go into shock.
Anaphylaxis can cause some people to go into anaphylactic shock. The anaphylactic shock caused by a wasp, hornet, or bee sting can be fatal. If you think you are, or know someone who is, going into anaphylactic shock seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Wasps and hornets can be dealt with in your property by treating their nest. If wasp and hornet nest removal is needed, it should be done by a professional pest controller to ensure it is done properly and safely.
However, bees are beneficial to the environment and should not be killed if at all possible. In the case of a bees nest you should contact a Bee Keeper or the Bee Keepers Association to find an experienced person to re-locate the nest for you.
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