A good first aid class should cover the basic things that can cause anaphylactic shock, which a wasp bite or sting can cause.
Anaphylactic shock is when the body overreacts to a protein that it comes in contact with or gets inhaled, ingested or injected, which is the case with wasp stings.
Anaphylaxis will affect multiple organs involving the whole body rather than just the area where the sting occurred. When the lungs or throat are affected breathing can be restricted to the point of respiratory arrest.
Death from anaphylactic shock is a real possibility for those who are allergic to the stings of insects such as wasps, hornets or bees. Most people with such severe allergies carry what is known as an Epi-pen which is a dose of epinephrine that can be easily administered by anyone who reads the instructions on the injector.
Unlike a bee which has a barbed stinger and can usually only sting once since the stinger gets stuck in the victim, a wasp can sting multiple times in multiple places.
A wasp sting is not technically worse. It only can produce a certain amount of venom which is usually less than that of a bee. A bee’s stinger is left behind by the bee with venom sacs still attached that will pump out all of the volumes of venom into the area of the sting.
Treating a wasp sting can be conditional depending on where the sting occurred, how many times a person was stung, how many wasps were stinging the person and if the person begins to show symptoms of anaphylactic shock.
A single sting to the hand is different than a sting inside the mouth which usually results from a person drinking from a bottle or can that was left uncovered while outdoors.
If there is any indication of breathing restriction, stand ready to administer artificial respirations for the victim while en route to the nearest emergency medical facility.
Wasps can get underneath clothing and continue to sting a victim who may be unconscious. Assess even a conscious victim to find where the stings occurred.
For a solitary sting that does not produce a major allergic response leading to dangerous anaphylactic shock, there is not a whole lot that can be done do minimize the pain of the sting.
Cleaning the area with soap and water to reduce the risk of secondary infection is a good idea. Cool water, in this case, will be better than hot water followed by treatment with an ice pack to minimize swelling.
Apply an ice pack to the area of the sting for 15 to 20 minutes each hour until the swelling is controlled.
Apply an antibiotic spray, cream or ointment to the site of the sting to help minimize secondary infection. If the victim has safely taken the over-the-counter antihistamine diphenhydramine, then it should be considered to help reduce itching at the sting site.
Over-the-counter pain medications that the victim has safely taken in the past should be considered to reduce the level of pain suffered from a wasp sting.
As emphasized in a good first aid class, anaphylactic shock is life-threatening. Symptoms usually occur within the first hour after the sting.
If the victim is having difficulty breathing, develops a rash or hives, has a large area of swelling at the sting site, has swelling beginning to occur anywhere else such as in the throat, or is experiencing a diminished level of consciousness emergency medical treatment should be sought immediately.
Any sting to the eye, throat or anywhere inside the mouth should be evaluated by medical personnel. Multiple stings should also be evaluated.
Even a person who has never shown any signs of being allergic to stings in the past may now have an allergy due to being stung prior. It is a good idea to immediately head toward an emergency medical facility when anyone is stung by a wasp.
It is better to be closer to a facility with advanced life support capability while carrying out the basic first aid procedure just in case anaphylaxis begins especially in that first hour after the sting.
There are many different kinds of wasps that may be pestering you and your family.
While the various species can usually be identified as either social or solitary wasps, the main varieties that cause concern are yellow jackets and hornets.
Moreover, wasps can actually provide a number of benefits as they kill many kinds of plant-eating insects. Still, because wasps aggressively defend their nests, you may find the need to consult professional pest control services.
Types of Wasps
Before we talk about wasp control, let’s quickly discuss the different kinds of wasps you might encounter.
- Paper Wasps
The paper wasp is among the least harmful wasp, and they are usually unlikely to sting. Their nests are very unique as they do not have an outer shell like most bee and wasp nests.
You will probably recognize hornets as they are large and very imposing. Still, hornets are not typically as aggressive as yellow jackets. Hornets usually feed between dusk and dawn and the most common hornet wasp in North America.
Finally, yellowjackets are identifiable by their thick waists and bright yellow colorings. These wasps are the most territorial and subsequently the most aggressive; they can sting multiple times and are especially apt to do so when defending their nests.
Even though we are prone to fear wasps, we can usually prevent problems by simply avoiding them and especially their nests.
Still, if a nest is very close to your home, or even formed somewhere in the structure of your home, you will want to get rid of it.
Remember that wasps provide beneficial services by eliminating other pest insects to predation before you decide to get rid of the wasps.
When wasps do need to be eliminated, the safest option is always to call for professional help. Various methods from trapping to pesticides can be used to get rid of these pests.
Among the most common product for the do-it-yourself inclined are aerosol insecticides. These will be marked for use on wasp and hornet nests and are effective for controlling paper wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets.
To get rid of paper wasps you’ll need to find the nest and spray it in a sweeping motion with pressurized (aerosol) wasp insecticide. It is recommended that you spray paper wasp nests at night.
Similarly, you can kill hornets with aerosol wasp killer, but be sure to spray the nest from a distance and also at night. The best method is to spray directly into the nest entrance. Finally, yellow jackets are the most difficult to kill.
Once you have identified the nest, you will need to spray plenty of poison into the nest so that you kill them all at once. This can be very difficult, and you should use a non-projectile wasp killer. By spraying yellow jacket nests at night, the yellow jackets will be less likely to fight back.
Keep in mind, getting rid of wasps can be dangerous, especially if you have bee or wasp allergies. It is always recommended that you seek professional help to eliminate all kinds of wasps.
Paper wasps derive their name from their uncanny habit of constructing papery nests from chewed up dead plant stems and wood mixed with their saliva. They are also called vespid wasps or the umbrella wasps because of the distinct umbrella shape of their nests.
Paper wasps have a reputation for being stingers and their sting is quite painful. But these wasps are also beneficial to the ecosystem around them. They are good for gardens around them because they pollinate flowers plus they chew up caterpillars that invade your garden and feed on their larvae as well.
How to identify paper wasps
The easiest way to identify this species of wasps is through their nest. It looks like an upside down paper comb hanging off a horizontal surface by a single stalk. Physically the wasp is about half an inch to an inch long and they have a reddish brown hue. They can also be yellow and blackish red. Their bodies are however, not fuzzy at all.
Because they do not lose their sting after stinging you like bees do, they can sting you repeatedly especially when they feel threatened or their colony is threatened.
They have a queen
Paper wasps have a queen whom they protect at all costs. She is probably the reason you get stung when you go near their colony. She gives birth to the worker wasps who continually expand the colony and nest. They forage for food and also care for the new larvae waiting to mature. The wasps will abandon the nests in the winter and most of the workers perish leaving the fertilized queen to survive until spring when she brings forth a new brood to start the colony cycle again.
Are paper wasp stings dangerous?
Yes they are to people who are allergic to stings. Some people will only experience localized pain and swelling which dissipates after an hour or two. However, some people are very allergic to stings and they can react in a number of ways including
- Experiencing difficulty in breathing
- Swelling of the face, tongue, lips and eyelids
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and fainting
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Breaking out in hives
Paper wasp love to make their home inside a house or right outside the house on one of the horizontal beams. Clearing them out is imperative to the safety of everyone in the house.
The Africanized bee or the African honey bee is the killer bee. It is a cross breed of the Eastern and southern Africa lowland honey bee and their European counterparts like the Italian bees. The first killer bees were taken to Brazil to help increase the country’s honey production but some swarms escaped quarantine and headed for the rest of South America and North America.
African honey bees look very much like regular honey bees but they are much more dangerous. They have been reported to give chase for at least quarter of a mile to attack anyone or any animal that they feel threatens their colony.
How do they look like?
The Africanized killer bee can be told apart by measuring their body against the domestic bees. They are smaller in size and have a richer golden color with much darker bands of brown compared to domesticated bees.
The killer bees create smaller colonies so they can build a nest inside the house. They have also been known to build a colony inside the water meter, mail boxes, crate and boxes lying around, flower posts and even in uninhabited holes in the ground. Did you notice that all these areas are bound to result in an accidental run in with humans especially children?
Killer beers do not have more potent venom compared to regular domestic bees but because they attack in larger numbers and are very quick to become aggressive they pose a greater danger. These bees are sensitive to any type of disturbance so noise, constant traffic near their colony, children playing nearby and other “disruptive” behavior is bound to trigger them. To prevent attacks it is best to keep away from their colonies especially if you live in an area with a common occurrence of killer bees.
What to do when under attack
When under attack from a swarm of killer bees run in a zig zag fashion and enter a shelter area where the doors and windows shut. This can be a house or a car. Some people run into a body of water but killer bees will wait for you to emerge and resume the attack.
If you notice a bee or several do not swat at them as this makes them feel threatened causing them to spring into action. Blow from a distance so that it feels like a draught of wind pushing at them. Do not use insect repellent when under attack as this doesn’t work either.
How to treat killer bee stings
When killer bees sting they leave their barb in the skin. When the stinger remains lodged in the skin it continues to release venom making the area more painful. Remove the barb and clean the sting site after cleaning apply a cold compress to take the pain and swelling down. You can also use an over the counter antihistamines and pain killers to alleviate the pain and sooth the local reaction. If the reaction persists and you suspect an anaphylactic shock is on the way call 911.
The yellow jacket is a species of wasps that has predatory tendencies. When a yellow jacket attacks you it will both bite and sting. In fact, it bites you to get a better grip to deliver its sting. The name yellow jacket actually is used as a general term for wasps in North America. In other parts of the world the same is just referred to as a wasp. It can also be called a yellow hornet.
Yellow jackets help the environment and the circle of life by feeding on the insects that cause damage to crops. This includes caterpillars, larvae and other small insects. Yellow jacket workers get more aggressive in the fall as they abandon their colonies and forage for themselves. They have no larvae to care for during this time and as they try to survive as a random entity they can become very testy when they feel threatened.
Generally yellow jackets don’t survive the winter unless the nest is in a very warm place in which case the whole colony can survive. However, the typical behavior of yellow jackets is for the queen to fly away after the summer and start other colonies elsewhere leaving the workers behind who die off at the end of the season. This nest is not reused.
A yellow jacket’s sting
It is excruciatingly painful but will last for about an hour or two. The sting can cause a burning sensation with a red ring surrounding the sting site. Usually, the red ring will last for up to three days without being infected.
Because yellow jackets are attracted to human food especially meats and sweets the chances of running into one are very high which makes the probability of as ting just as high. An effective home remedy for a yellow jacket sting is a plain mixture of baking soda and water (a spoonful of baking soda will suffice) applied to the sting site. This helps to neutralize the venom. You can also apply some vinegar afterwards to reduce the itchiness. If you keep scratching the site you can open yourself up to an infection.
You can also apply some calamine lotion to the area or hydrocortisone cream to relieve the swelling, itching and pain from the sting.
How to remove yellow jacket nests
Try to not approach the nest during the day because there is a greater likelihood of being stung by the worker yellow jacket as they strive to protect the queen. Instead wait for nightfall when they are not so aggressive and dismantle it then. You can kill yellow jackets with pyrethrum aerosol at night because they do not see well and the whole colony is inside the nest. Why pyrethrum aerosol specifically? Because the pyrethrum forms a potent gas which fills the interior of the nest and no wasp can survive this.
Once done with the spraying you should let the aerosol dry completely then dust the nest with insecticide dust to kill off any hatching eggs.
Bumble bees are considered cute and have even been commercialized with cute bumble bee costumes for Halloween and school plays. But how cute are they? Unlike honey bees which are slender with a pointed tip on the abdomen and little to no hair, bumble bees are wider and fuzzier in comparison. Despite their cuter appearance bumble bees do sting if they feel threatened. The stinging is usually done by the worker bees and their queen in protection of the colony. Drone bees do not sting since they don’t have stingers.
How to treat a bumble bee sting
Because the bumble bee stinger doesn’t have a barb it can keep stinging repeatedly without hurting itself or leaving the stinger in your flesh. These bees do not leave behind a venom sac so their stings are distinctly much more bearable compared to Africanized honey bee, domestic honey bees and even wasp stings. But make no mistake the bumble bee also leaves behind some venom which is why its sting stings (pun intended).
Treatment is easy if you have no adverse reaction to bee stings. Clean the site of the sting with soap and water. Dry it and apply an ice pack or cold compress to ease the pain and reduce the swelling. Take some pain relief medicine as needed. Remove the compress/ice pack and apply some hydrocortisone cream to lessen the itching, swelling and redness. Get a tetanus shot if it has been over ten years since your last one. The wound can get infected with tetanus bacteria.
With the bumble sting, since the bee doesn’t have a venom sack in its barb it holds far less venom which can be neutralized using vinegar. Just soak some cotton balls into apple cider vinegar and place it on the sting site then apply a bit of pressure. The acidity in the vinegar neutralizes the bee’s venom making it more bearable.
How does your body cope with a bee sting?
The first thin your body does is react to the venom released into your system by the stinger. These are the typical symptoms you experience ranging from swelling, itchiness, redness, pain and discomfort. You will probably continue to experience these localized reaction for a few hours after which they will begin to dissipate. For some people the symptoms go away after three days as the body flushes the toxins out. Also, the body washed the sting site with blood that flushes out the venom.
For people who are allergic to bee stings even a sting from a bumble bee can cause you to go into anaphylactic shock because there is some venom involved as well. So make sure you have epinephrine handy as this is the primary first aid medication for anaphylaxis. It prevents the adverse life threatening symptoms that accompany any bee or wasp sting including difficulty breathing, hypotension, and shock.
If you have a rash all over the body but no difficulty breathing you will be given an antihistamine for the sting. Bumble bees may be cute but they are still bees.
The wasp is prone to using its sting to deter the presence of elements it deems dangerous near its nest. Wasps, ants, hornets, bees and yellow jackets are from the order of Hymenoptera. Wasp and bee sting especially can cause an allergic reaction in humans that can sometimes turn fatal in some people. The stings from this class of insects are referred as a hymenoptera sting.
Why are wasp stings dangerous?
Wasps impart venom when they sting you and this venom triggers an allergic reaction known as an anaphylaxis. The anaphylactic shock is risky because it results in life threatening situations. You will experience
- Difficulty swallowing and breathing
- Swollen lips and tongue
- A weakened pulse or a very rapid pulse
- Intense vomiting
- Runny nose
Some of these symptoms make it difficult for the person who has been stung to breathe or it may cause them to choke when their airways become swollen. This may result in death. The first symptoms of an anaphylactic shock are typically a break out in hives, pale or flushed skin, dizziness and fainting spells, extremely lowered blood pressure and sudden constriction in the airways.
The symptoms following a sting can begin to set in immediately or within a few minutes of the sting. Within 30 minutes they have usually intensified and peaked needing urgent medical attention. The anaphylactic reaction may dissipate after the first wave but in most cases this lull lasts only for a few hours usually less than eight before the affected person experiences the second wave of reactions known as the biphasic response.
The second phase may be just as severe as the first or milder. You can expect it to occur within the first 72 hours of the anaphylactic episode.
Even for people who do not go into anaphylactic shock as a result of the wasp sting they still experience the effects of the sting for up to three days.
Who is most vulnerable?
The people most vulnerable to wasp stings are the ones who have previous allergic reactions to the same insects. Such people may or may not know about their allergic reaction. For non-allergic people children and the elderly are the most affected followed by pregnant women and invalids. The non-allergic people may not experience the anaphylactic shock but multiple stings from several wasps can result in swelling of the airwaves as well as bacterial infections on the skin broken by the sting.
Wasp venom contains some acetylcholine which is a chemical that triggers the pain receptors in the body. Unlike bees which leave their stinger attached to their victim’s flesh when they sting you, wasps don’t leave their stinger behind so it can sting over and over again. To take the bite out of the sting one can apply honey to the wound. Honey helps with healing the wound and relieves the urge to itch.
Baking soda is also a great home remedy for wasp stings because it neutralizes the venom effectively stopping the pain and discomfort .
Bee removal in Mesa, AZ or in any other part of the state is often sought because while bees are an essential part of the ecosystem and do a ton of work pollinating (including billions of dollars’ worth of crops), unless you’re a beekeeper you probably don’t want to live with them.
If you or a family member is allergic to bees, it even becomes dangerous to leave them alone. While there are a few ways you can get rid of them yourself, we would recommend getting in touch with a professional pest control company for larger hives. And if you’re allergic to bee stings or think you may be, do NOT attempt to remove or kill them yourself.
Some symptoms of being allergic include the following:
- Tightness in throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
If you’ve been stung and experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away. While rare, you may also go into anaphylactic shock.
Now, if you see bees around your home it doesn’t automatically mean you have a beehive on your property. These could be scouts who are still looking for that new location.
If you spot a lot of bees all huddled together, this may be a swarm of bees en route to a new location and just stopping to let the queen rest. If you see a lot of them forming to look something like a deflated football and you don’t see a hive anywhere, they’re likely just passing by. It’s recommended that you leave them alone since they’re at their most docile without honey or a nest to protect and will leave in a day or two.
If you find a lot of bees coming and going through an opening in your house, then they’ve likely set up shop there. Roofs, attics, wall cavities are some places they can build a hive, which means places that aren’t easily accessible to you.
Before getting rid of them yourself or calling a pest control service, may want to find out if there’s a beekeeper in your area. If there is one and the hive you have isn’t too troublesome to remove, they may do it for free and take it home with them, safe and sound.
Before attempting to deal with bees yourself, make sure you’re wearing protective clothing and cover as much skin as possible. Gloves, scarf, hat, and even goggles would be a good idea.
Some things you can do to repel bees:
- Bees don’t like moth balls. Placing them around the hive will encourage the bees to relocate.
- Sprinkle cinnamon around their hive. The smell of it would also encourage them to relocate.
- Plant bee repelling plants – mint, citronella, and eucalyptus are some of the more popular choices.
If you’d rather kill the bees, some methods may be:
- Cut a soda bottle in half, and leave it full of very sweet soda near where a lot of bees are. They’ll be attracted to the sweet liquid and drown in it.
- Mix one part dish soap and four parts water in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray the bees you see and the hive if visible. This will agitate the bees though and they’ll try to sting you, so make sure you wear protective clothing, and do this sporadically while seeking shelter indoors between sprays.
- Spraying them with insecticide will also work – make sure you get one for specific for bees.
Because there’s a good chance they’ll end up stinging you while you attempt to deal with them, we would recommend getting in touch with a professional pest control service to take care of it for you. Since bees are also important to our ecosystem, whenever possible have them removed and not killed. Note though that removal services are typically more expensive than having pest professionals kill them.
If their hive is left attached to your house, make sure to properly dispose of it. Otherwise, you might find honey oozing through your ceiling or walls once no bees are left to maintain it.
Another thing to note is that once they’re removed, it’s also important to seal their entry point or points – you don’t want new bees in the future finding it and leaving you with the same problem again.
Depending on what kind of bee it is, there may be different methods needed to repel or kill them. It’s also possible that you’re mistaking wasps for bees – and wasps are much more aggressive so you should know what you’re dealing with first! For more information on wasps and bees, check out our blog entries for them here.
Flying bugs freak most people out – especially ones that can sting.
Bees can look a little bit cuddly, sure, but they can still sting. Wasps have a reputation for being more aggressive, and unlike bees, the same wasp can sting you multiple times. This is because once a bee stings you, their stinger gets stuck on your skin and the bee actually dies after. Wasps don’t have this problem though so people are understandably more wary of them.
Anyone would undoubtedly be dismayed to find a bug’s nest on their property. But a nest full of aggressive, flying creatures that sting too? Zero shame in noping right out of there.
WASPS ON YOUR PROPERTY:
Obviously if you see wasps on your property that’s a good indication you may have a nest nearby. So you don’t mistake bees for wasps – they have much less hair on their bodies and look shinier. They also have rounder legs, versus the flatter legs bees have. The yellow jacket wasp is common in Arizona and is frequently mistaken for the honey bee. These wasps have yellow and black markings, but they have a brighter yellow as well as the other differences mentioned earlier.
When you spot these wasps on your property, try to determine their flight path to see where their nest is – of course, from a safe distance.
If you hear a lot of buzzing, that may be another sign that you have wasps on your property, albeit not where you can readily see them (for example, if they’ve established a nest in your attic).
If you’ve seen wasps or you hear them, do a perimeter check on your property to spot a wasp nest.
IDENTIFYING A WASP NEST:
The nest you are likely to see on the external surfaces of your home or place of business would a paper wasp nest. These nests are made out of regurgitated wood pulp and saliva, and as such look papery. They’re typically gray or straw-colored.
Wasp nests may start out as small as a golf ball, and during the summer as the wasp population increases, grow to be as big as a football or even bigger. These are smooth on the outside, but on the inside may contain hexagon-shaped cells where wasp eggs are deposited.
They’re usually found in attics, porch ceilings, the undersides of a deck, or in tree branches.
Other species of wasps build nests in the ground, and other solitary wasps prefer to lodge in natural or man-made recesses where they’re protected from most of the elements.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
These wasps will eventually go away on their own. Or rather, they’ll mostly die off during winter months. It’s only the queen that survives and she’ll be off to find a new home come spring.
Unlike a beehive, leaving an abandoned wasp nest right where it is won’t leave you with any significant property damage. Nor will it attract other wasps – and may even deter them from the site. Unlike other pests, wasps don’t re-use nests.
That said, you can still get new wasp nests on your property. Because they are more aggressive and can sting you repeatedly, we would recommend getting in touch with a professional to have them removed.
For more information on wasps, check out our other blog entries here.
If you picture yellow and black furry little flying creatures when you think of the word “bee”, that’s because you’re probably thinking of honey bees and bumblebees which are some of the most popular types of bees in the United States.
What’s called the Black Bee actually refers to a number of bee species that are black or mostly black in color. Common types of black bees found in the US are types of carpenter bees, of the genus Xylocopa, which includes around 500 types of other bees.
Many species of Xylocopa are difficult to tell apart, but most of them are all black or primarily black in color with some yellow or white hairs.
Some people even confuse carpenter bees (ones with less black coloring) to bumblebees, but a key difference is that carpenter bees have a shinier abdomen, whereas bumblebees have a much hairier abdomen.
Unlike the honey and bumble bee, the carpenter bee only has a small portion of hair on its middle abdomen, while their lower abdomen has little to no hair and appears to be black and shiny. As mentioned earlier, most carpenter bees are all black or primarily black with some yellow (or white) coloring, typically only on their head.
They have mandibles or chewing parts on the front of their head used for drilling through wood where they make their nests.
They have 4 hairy black legs, antennae, and are typically about an inch long.
The female Valley Carpenter Bee is slightly smaller at about a quarter of an inch long. They are black with a metallic sheen (male valley carpenter bees are a more golden brown in color).
Both male and female Mountain Carpenter bees are black (though males may have yellow or white hairs on their heads) and are about half an inch long.
Other notable black bees that are not carpenter bees are the Leafcutting Bees and the Mining Bees.
Black bees such as carpenter bees are solitary, so that means they don’t gather and form a colony. The female will tunnel into wood – usually a dead tree, or firewood, or the side or wooden part of a house – and lay her eggs there. She’ll create small circle “apartments”, about 6 to 10 in total, laying eggs in each one and closing off each excavated cell with regurgitated wood pulp. These cells house individual eggs, and in each one she leaves behind a ball of pollen which serves as a food source for the larvae that hatch and mature over several weeks. Eventually, they’ll chew their way out of the place.
While the female bee is setting her kids up for eventual success, the male bee will be out and about patrolling and guarding the area even though, interestingly, the male carpenter bee doesn’t have a stinger and is harmless to humans.
Once this is all done, the pair move on and will die within a few weeks.
You may spot an entrance to a carpenter bee nest by its opening, which is an almost perfect circle about the size of the diameter of your little finger.
BEHAVIOR AND DIET:
While they chew a lot of wood, they don’t actually eat it for nutrition. They eat pollen and nectar from flowering plants.
HOW DANGEROUS ARE THEY?
Male carpenter bees don’t have stingers, and as such, can’t sting humans. Females do, but they’re very docile creatures and will rarely sting – only if they feel extremely threatened.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?
Carpenter bees may reuse old tunnels and sometimes expand them in the process, so if they’ve chosen to nest in your home, this could be significant wood damage over the years.
It’s a good idea to close off any old nests they have – plug the holes with carpenter’s glue or any suitable sealant so future carpenter bees won’t be able to reuse them. This also eliminates moisture intrusion and helps against wood decay.
Another thing to keep in mind is that carpenter bees prefer to tunnel through bare wood – they typically stay away from painted wood. While less reliable, wood that’s been treated with chemicals like stains and preservatives also fare better than bare wood.
If you have a bee problem on your property, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pest control for help.