Smart strategies avoiding the sting of bees, wasps, and hornets

Getting stung by a flying insect is a painful reminder to be careful when outdoors this summer.  Fortunately for most of us, our reaction to a sting is usually mild to moderate with some pain and swelling at the sting site.  But for others who are allergic to insect stings, it can be downright deadly.  In these cases, a life-threatening allergic reaction can escalate resulting in difficulty breathing, tongue swelling, nausea, and unconsciousness.  

Bees, wasps and hornets really don’t mean to harm us.  When they do it’s because they are feeling threatened and are defending themselves. Taking precautions to avoid getting stung in the first place will help protect yourself from these insects.  Here are some strategies to minimize your chance of getting stung:

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·      Don’t look like a flower when outdoors

Beekeepers wear white and you should too.  Brightly colored clothing, similar to a brightly colored flower, will attract bees to you.  When outdoors keep your clothing neutral by wearing khaki, white, beige, or other light colored clothing.

·      Don’t smell nice

Wearing perfume or cologne will attract bees and wasps looking for sweet nectar from a flower.  These insects will pick up on strong sweet-smelling odors and will want to land on you thinking you’re a flower.

·      Wear shoes when outdoors

Walking barefoot is just asking to get stung by a bee.  Bees love to hover over small flowers in the yard and wasps sometimes make a nest in the ground.  They both will defend their turf if you accidentally step on or near them and the first thing they will go for is your feet.  Put on closed-toed shoes to prevent this from happening.

·      Eat sugary foods indoors

Sipping on a soda or eating a sugary food outside attracts bees and wasps.  If you set your drink down always check your soda can before taking a drink to make sure one of them hasn’t decided to take a peek inside.  Flying insects love the sweet taste of fruit so avoid leaving fruit or the pits of fruit – like peaches – lying around attracting them. 

·      Remain calm if one is flying around you

Having a bee, wasp, or hornet buzzing around you and keeping still is not easy but if you madly swat at them or run, they’ll see it as a challenge and defend themselves.  If this happens, stay calm and once they realize you’re not a flower and have nothing to offer, they should move on.

·      When driving, keep your windows rolled up

If your car windows are closed, these pesky flying insects can’t get inside.  If one of them does get inside, pull over when it’s safe to do so and roll the window down to release it.  When attempting to swat at a flying insect while driving is only a disaster waiting to happen.

·      Keep food containers and trash cans tightly covered

Wasps in particular love leftover food and empty soda and beer cans.  Keeping all food containers and trash cans thoroughly washed with tight-fitting lids on will discourage wasps or other stinging insects from hanging around.

·      Take precautions when mowing or trimming shrubbery

Wasps and hornets like to make nests in areas of vegetation.  This can be particularly dangerous if you are mowing or trimming shrubbery and you mow or trim right into their home turf.  Suddenly, you can be under attack by not just one, but dozens of angry, stinging insects.  Always inspect your yard and shrubbery for the possibility of areas where they may have made a home.  Have a professional bee keeper or pest control expert remove wasp or hornets nests safely.