Written by contributor NJ Renie.
We love summer. We love being outdoors, flowers, barbeques, long sunny days, and fresh fruit. But we are not the only ones out there that love those things; insects do too and occasionally our paths will cross. Once in a while our tiny, frustrated neighbors will turn to violence and when that happens, it usually involves a thing that stings. Let’s take a look at a few of the common ones.
HornetsPhoto by Penny Bubar
- Hornets live in a large paper nests in tree branches or bushes.
- Each hornet has a very painful sting and will sting multiple times.
- Each nest begins with a single queen hornet in the spring and their numbers increase gradually until late summer or early fall.
- Fire ants will nest in protected areas (in logs, under rocks and bushes) as well as making large mound-shaped nests in the open ground.
- They eat seeds, flowers, fruits, vegetables, insects and small animals.
- Fire ants live in the southern US and other warm places.
- Very aggressive, fire ants attack in very large groups and will bite and sting.
Paper WaspsPhoto by Alex Drahon
- Paper wasps live in small nests of a few to a few dozen individuals. These nests attached to the underside eaves, rocks, and other protected areas.
- Some species are very aggressive, particularly when defending the nest.
- Adult paper wasps will feed on dropped fruit and nectar; paper wasps feed insects to their young.
- Make small tubular nests under the eaves of homes.
- Mud wasps are usually very docile will sting only when bothered.
- They feed on nectar and feed their young other insects and spiders.
HoneybeesPhoto by KD Kelly
- In nature honeybees nest in hollow trees.
- Honeybees will occasionally nest in the walls of homes
- Honeybees live in very large nests of ~70,000 individuals.
- Unlike everything else on this list, each honey bee can only sting once.
- Bumble bees live in small colonies of less than one hundred.
- They collect pollen and produce honey, just like honeybees.
- Small nests can be found in the ground, often under structures or logs.
- Bumble bee nests are a favorite food of mice and abandoned mouse nests are a favorite nesting place of bumble bees!
Yellow JacketsPhoto by Gary Scott
- Yellow jackets live in paper nests usually located at ground level.
- A colony of Yellow Jackets will usually number into the couple of thousands. In areas without a harsh winter, such as the American Southwest or Hawaii, yellow jacket colonies can reach sizes of 100,000 or more!
- Occasionally Yellow Jacket nests will be found in places like the walls of home, under a beehive, or in an old boot.
- Like hornets, their numbers will steadily increase into the early fall. And the adults eat nectar while the larvae are fed other insects.
- Yellow Jackets are notorious for invading picnics during the late summer and early fall. Remember, your open soda can looks like a 12 oz. flower filled with nectar to them!
Sting First Aid
First off, get the heck out of there!!!
When stung by a honey bee be sure to remove the stinger ASAP. A bee leaves its stinger in you when it stings. The stinger apparatus has an attached venom sack which will continue pumping venom into the sting site until the sack is empty.
Allergic reaction to honey bees is by far the most common, but whenever you are stung byanything
anaphylaxis is a real possibility. Immediately report your sting to someone else so that they can keep an eye on your condition.
In the event of abnormal swelling, wheezing, or dizziness treat the sting as a life-threatening situation. Call 911 and if you do not have access to epinephrine, oral anti-histamines can slow an anaphylactic reaction enough to buy the paramedics some time.
Anti-histamines will slow your body’s inflammatory response, reduce the swelling and give the venom time to dissipate.
Ice is probably the best thing after a sting. The low temperature will numb the discomfort and control the swelling.
As far as pastes and folk cures go… I know you have ’em, so let’s hear ’em!
Who has been stinging in your yard this summer? What’s your bee sting treatment?