Summertime Precautions for Allergic to Insects

By staff

For some allergies, the best safety measure is avoidance and in some instances, that’s fairly easy to do. Others, not so much. For instance, how do you say, “Excuse me, Mr. Bee, please don’t sting, I’m allergic.” or “Sorry, Ma’am, I really didn’t mean to step on your fire ant mound, please forgive me.”? So instead, many insect allergy sufferers endure the shots, keep the epipen and Benadryl on hand, and have that underlying outdoor fear, especially in the summer time.

While avoidance may not be possible at all times with stinging insects, and shots or other methods of clearing the allergy may be needed along with an epipen and antihistamine, it is possible to implement some preventative measures while you are enjoying your time outdoors. Bees and fire ants are actually much easier to avoid than mosquitoes, and though mosquitoes are “peskier”, fire ants, bees and wasps can be much more life threatening. For some, an allergic response to mosquitoes does develop, but more commonly consists of intense local swelling rather than an anaphylactic reaction.

According to Natural Health Magazine, July/August 2007 issue, the best way to avoid bee, wasp and fire ant stings is to avoid the mound or hive altogether. These insects are aggressive and will defend their territories. Bees usually die after one sting, wasps can live long enough to sting five or six times, and because of the organized manner of the fire ant, it’s possible to be stung close to 100 times before even realizing what’s happening.

It’s also suggested to wear dull or neutral colors; the myth that bees mistake bright clothing for flowers may not be such a myth, because they are definitely attracted to the brighter hues, even in clothing. Also, go without perfume, scented lotions, and hairspray; these all attracts bees and wasps. Sugary treats and soft drinks are tempting to insects, so dispose properly of these during outings, and stay clear of the trash cans.

If you are stung by a bee or wasp, try to get the stinger out as quickly as possible. It takes up to a minute for the full amount of venom to disperse. Tweezers are a good tool, but if you don’t have a pair with you, flick the stinger with your fingernails instead of trying to pull it out, and you can probably remove it safely.

Many pest control companies incorporate fire ant and bee/wasp hive removal into their contracts. Call them before taking this on yourself; remember these insects are highly aggressive.

Nobody wants to get stung by bees, wasps or ants of any kind, especially those with allergies. The avoidance measures may come in handy during these hot summer months and throughout the year. Be aware of your surroundings and these other measures to stave the harmful insects away and enjoy your summer.

- Heather Legg

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