Wasp Stings

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Wasp stings

A sting by a social or common wasp (also known as a yellow jacket) or a hornet is a painful experience. It can be very upsetting and frightening for young children, but it can also be stressful for anyone and can be very painful even for those who are not allergic to insect stings.

Wasp stings may even be life threatening to people allergic to the poison in stings. This allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis. If you are allergic to wasp stings, make sure you carry your medication and seek medical attention if you are stung right away. Wasp stings can happen multiple times due to the nature of wasp stingers and how wasps attack.

People who have been stung several times previously and have become sensitized are more likely to suffer this systemic reaction.

The good news is that this type of allergic reaction is rare and it is even rarer for it to be fatal. If you feel that you have a wasp infestation and are at risk for wasp stings, contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office.

The wasp stinger

A wasp's stinger is not like that of a bee. In fact, the stinger of wasp is designed nothing like a bee's stinger. A wasp's stinger is designed to be used again and again, striking the possible threat over and over again and stabbing the intended prey or potential threat like a small needle.

Wasps will attack in a large number. When a threat is detected, wasps release a pheromone that summons the rest of the soldier wasps. They will pursue a potential threat over long distances and swarm the threat, the entire time stinging over and over again.

A bee's stinger is barbed at the end, which is why a bee will sting and then die. When the bee takes off, the stinger stays in the flesh of the prey and disembowel the bee. For a wasp, this is not the case. A wasp's stinger is smooth and does not stick in a person's flesh and retracts into the body and extends over and over again.

What does a wasp sting look like?

A wasp's sting will be painful when it first happens, but you may not see much on the skin at first. There could be a small puncture wound and maybe a tiny dot of blood, but that's about it. However, soon after it happens, the area can turn red and the actual sting area will likely swell.

Once you see the raised welt, you may see a small white mark near the center. That's the spot where the stinger entered your skin.

The areas around the wound will be very painful to the touch and the entire area can become quite swollen based upon a person's threshold for pain and insect stings. Allergic reactions can cause severe swelling and other symptoms which can become very dangerous.

If you have been stung and find yourself having trouble breathing, or the pain is very intense, seek medical attention. Extreme swelling is also a potential sign of trouble and medical attention should be sought then, too.

Preventing wasp and hornet stings

A wasp sting is a form of defense. If wasps feel threatened or if their nest is disturbed it makes them very aggressive and provokes them to sting. It’s best not to approach a wasp’s nest during the day when they are the most active. Stay away from a wasp’s nest, as well, as they will defend their territory at a larger distance than most bees. Do not try to knock down or remove a wasp’s nest without full body protection.

If a wasp’s nests swarms and attacks, it is best not to wave your arms around. Backing away quickly, but without flailing, can reduce the number of stings.

In spring wasps hunt aphids, greenfly and other insects to feed grubs in the nest. At this time wasps will only become aggressive if they think their nest or their young are under threat.

Tips to avoid stings

In late summer/autumn wasps have no young to feed so get no sugary secretion. This is when they seek fermenting fruit and sweet things and become more of a pest at picnics, barbecues and outdoor meals in general.

Luckily there are some easy, practical things you can do yourself to try and avoid being stung.

  • Do not panic - If you find there are wasps nearby keep calm and move slowly away.

  • Do not scream, flap your arms or swat them - This will just agitate them and make them more aggressive.

  • Avoid strong, sweet smells - Do not use highly perfumed fragrances, shampoos, hair sprays.

  • Avoid bright colours - Do not wear bright, bold floral patterns on clothes and bags, which could attract wasps.

  • Avoid orchards - Or any soft fruit plants and even uncovered bins, where wasps gather seeking food.

  • Avoid open drinks - If drink cans or bottles are left unattended, it may encourage wasps to crawl inside.

  • Cover food and drink - Always keep food and drink covered when eating outdoors to deter wasps.

  • Stay clean - Ensure children’s hands/faces are cleaned after eating sweet foods/drinks.

Treatments for wasp stings

It is difficult to know how you might react to a wasp sting, if you have never been stung before.
There are some practical things you can do to help with any pain you might feel

  • Use a cold compress such as an ice-pack or cold flannel.
  • Take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to soothe any pain.
  • Take antihistamine tablets to reduce any small localized swelling around the sting.

If you are in any doubt about a wasp sting please consult a doctor or medical professional.

The allergic reaction anaphylaxis can occur when someone becomes sensitized to the poison in the sting. It is a rare reaction but can be fatal.

If someone has the following symptoms after being stung, immediately call for an ambulance:

  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing
  • vomiting
  • nausea or diarrhea
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • swollen face or mouth
  • problems swallowing

How long do wasp stings last?

How long a wasp’s sting lasts depends on a person’s reaction to the sting. People who are sensitive to insect stings, may have the sting last and remain swollen or painful for several days. For some others, the wasp’s sting may disappear in as little as three days.

If there is intense pain or swelling for days, it is possible someone could be experiencing an allergic reaction or perhaps some kind of wasp’s sting infection. You should seek medical attention if the pain is intense for longer than a couple days.

Want to avoid wasp stings?

Wasp nest removal is one of the most reliable ways to reduce the number of wasps buzzing around your home and the risk of painful stings.

You will continue to have a wasp problem throughout the summer as long as a nest remains untreated on your property. 

Due to safety concerns, we do not recommend using DIY wasp removal products to destroy a hornet or wasp nest yourself. The safest and most proven method in removing stinging insect nests is by contacting pest control professionals like Ehrlich.

At Ehrlich, our qualified, local technicians require just one 30 - 45 minute visit to treat a wasp nest and Ehrlich pest control specialists will help you find ways to prevent wasp nests and prevent wasp stings in the future..

We will also offer expert advice on preventing wasp problems in the future.

Call Ehrlich free at 1-800-837-5520 for further information on how to get rid of wasps and hornets arrange for a visit by a specialist.. 



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