Insect Sting Avoidance

Summer is in full force and so are stinging insects.  If you are allergic to any of the stinging insects, take steps to protect yourself from locations, situations, and clothing that attract them:

  • Be aware that yellow jackets nest in the ground, hornets in bushes and trees, and that flowers attract every species of stinging insects.  In the southeastern quarter of the U.S., stinging fire ants live in large mounds.
  • Keep an insecticide spray that is specific for stinging insects handy at home, in your car, and when you are outdoors.
  • Avoid perfumes, hair sprays, suntan lotions and other scented cosmetic products when outdoors.
  • Do not go barefoot or wear floppy clothing outdoors.  White or subdued shades of green, tan, or khaki are preferable.
  • Minimize the area of exposed skin when you are outdoors by wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks.  Also, wear closed toe shoes, not flip flops or sandals.
  • Be especially cautious when gardening, and always wear gloves.
  • You should avoid wood piles, and be extremely careful when mowing the lawn, since stinging insects may be living there.
  • Check all window screens for openings and keep car windows closed when driving.
  • During the insect season, check outside your home and nearby structures for insect nests.
  • Be cautious in picnic areas, fruit orchards, beaches, and other locations that feature exposed food, fragrances, and bright colors.  All of those attract stinging insects
  • Never drink from a can or bottle that might have a hidden insect inside.

In general, good common sense in avoiding locations and situations known to attract insects can often prevent insect stings.  Patients who have had a severe reaction to a sting should be evaluated by an allergist for correct diagnosis and treatment of the allergic condition.

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