Insect stings are uncomfortable and can often be distressing particularly if suffering from several stings.
However, the risks of being stung can be minimized by destroying wasp nests in or near the home and taking some basic precautions when outside.
Some people are much more sensitive to insect stings than others and young children tend to be particularly sensitive.
However, three percent of the population are extremely allergic to insect stings. An allergy to insect stings can develop at any time, even if they have not reacted to a previous sting.
Call an ambulance immediately if someone has a severe reaction to an insect sting.
Symptoms may include fainting, dizziness, nausea or difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
Insect stings should not be confused with insect bites.
An insect, like a wasp or hornet, stings to defend itself when it perceives a threat either to itself or the colony. It stings by injecting poison into or under the skin. The effect is immediate and results in a sharp, burning sensation.
While some insects sting to defend themselves, others (like mosquitoes) , bite to draw 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).
The most common stinging insects are wasps (including hornets) or bees. Wasps are the most aggressive and may sting with little provocation.
Bees are much less likely to sting, usually when they are stood or sat on. The key sign of a bee sting is that it leaves its stinger lodged inside the skin and a venomous sac will continue to pump poison for more than a minute.
In contrast, the only sign of a wasp or hornet sting is likely to be a small puncture hole.
Once stung by a wasp or bee, the surrounding area will quickly redden and a raised welt will form. The welt will lessen after a few hours, but it may remain itchy for more than a day.
There are practical steps Ehrlich recommends if you are stung by an insect.
If stung by a bee:
If stung by a bee or wasp:
To relieve itching:
For those with a moderate allergy to stings, there may be more general swelling around the wound. Consult your doctor if the swelling is severe or persistent.
Call an ambulance immediately if any of the following symptoms are seen within 30 minutes of a sting:
Remember, allergies to stings can develop at any time.
Those stung on two or more occasions in previous years are at higher risk from developing an allergy.
Another group at high risk are those who suffer from other allergies (such as to pollen or pets).
People who are sensitive to insect stings should take care to minimize the risk of being stung, but there are practical steps that we can all take.
If there are high numbers of wasps or bees in your home or garden, it is likely there is a nest nearby.
It is important to deal with nests as early as possible – wasps become more aggressive in late summer and it is much safer to deal with them earlier in the year.
Ehrlich offers professional service for wasp nest removal and advice on how to get rid of wasps, hornets & bees.
Call Ehrlich Pest Control at for more advice on wasp stings and bee stings.