Ants, Bees, Wasps and Stings
Bug bite or bee sting?
Many insects bite or sting and you may wonder what’s the difference? The difference is that bugs that bite use their mouthparts and aren’t actually poisonous. However, these little guys may have saliva that can cause reactions such as pain, itching or infections.
Stinging insects all use small, sharp, needle-like organ called a “sting” to inject venom into another animal by piercing the skin. This usually causes pain, swelling, redness and itching. While all stinging insects have venom, the small dose you get when stung isn’t usually dangerous unless you happen to be allergic to it.
Bugs in Canada
- Flies (e.g., black flies, sand flies, deer flies, horse flies)
- Ticks and spiders (arachnids are technically not insects)
- Honeybees and bumblebees
- Wasps (yellow jackets) and hornets
- Fire ants
Health concerns (bites)
Health concerns (stings)
There’s no getting around it, if you’ve been stung you know it! For most people the pain is sharp followed by an intense burning feeling at the spot where you were stung. Next you will likely see a red ring or bump where you were stung, and some swelling and soon the pain turns into a major itch. Usually the pain and swelling go away after a few hours. Unfortunately, a small percentage will have a serious allergic reaction that needs immediate emergency treatment. Common symptoms of anaphylaxis are:
- Dangerously low blood pressure (dizziness, fainting)
- Nausea, cramping, diarrhea, or vomiting
- Swelling of the face and throat
- Difficulty breathing
Ten tips to avoid being stung
1. Don’t use flowery fragrances, lotions, shampoos or soaps
2. Stay away from fruit, juices and sugary drinks when outdoors
3. Don’t walk through clover fields
4. Apply insect repellent
5. Wear long-sleeve shirts, pants, socks & shoes
6. Tuck your shirt into your pants, & your pants into your socks
7. Clear away garbage & animal feces
8. Keep food containers & trash cans covered
9. Be careful when working on your lawn or garden
10. Have hives and nests near your home removed by a professional
Did you know that most stinging insects keep their stinger? However, a bee’s sting is barbed & often stays in your skin?
All stings should be washed with soap and water.
For most bites and stings, no treatment is needed. However, ice, over-the counter pain medicine, antihistamines, hydrocortisone cream & calamine lotion can help soothe pain and itching.
If you are allergic to bug bites or stings your doctor is likely to prescribe an epinephrine autoinjector in case of emergency.
This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.
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