How to avoid the stingers and biters of summer — and deal with them if you can’t | News |

2022-07-30 18:25:14 By : Ms. Joy xu

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A mix of clouds and sun. High 76F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph..

Generally clear. Low 52F. Winds light and variable.

Ticks often try to hitch a ride on passing humans.

Ticks often try to hitch a ride on passing humans.

HARRISBURG (TNS) — While more of us seem to be more accepting of insects — even the stingers and biters if they don’t enter our personal space — summer is the season of injury from insects, arachnids and myriapods (centipedes, millipedes and the like).

The heat waves sweltering across Pennsylvania and most of the country, according to Rescue, a manufacturer of pest control products, “can bring exponential growth in bug populations.”

For example, Rescue notes, “under normal conditions, housefly eggs take around 20 hours to hatch into larvae (maggots). But when the temperature hits 99 degrees Fahrenheit, those eggs can hatch in less than eight hours. And the eggs can mature from larvae to pupae to adult flies in as little as four days in extremely hot weather.”

Yellowjackets also especially thrive and multiply in hot, dry weather. “In extreme heat (over 90 degrees Fahrenheit) it only takes one week for yellowjacket nests to double in size. A nest that has 100 yellowjackets in late July could grow to several thousand yellowjackets by the end of August if the weather stays above 90.”

In addition, hot, dry weather causes nearly all creatures to seek out moisture, which many of us supply in abundance in our backyards, on our decks and in other spots where we like to spend time outdoors.

Wherever we haven’t “nuked” our backyards and gardens lurks the possibility of stings and bites.

“Every year, more than 500,000 people visit the emergency room to be treated for insect stings,” said Cindy Mannes, senior vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

Avoiding the stingers and biters, as well as their defensive responses, is critical, according to the NPMA.

Try not to attract wasps and hornets to your space, the NPMA advises. Remove garbage frequently, keep trashcans covered, ensure that doors and windows are properly screened and avoid sweet-smelling perfumes.

Also don’t swat at hovering wasps or hornets, which can trigger a defensive response. Instead, if a stray stinging insect is giving you unwanted attention, try blowing gently from a safe distance to shoo it away.

Lynn S. Kimsey, director of the Center for Biosystematics and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, stressed that paper wasps and yellow jackets are not antagonistic insects in general, unless their nest is traumatized.

But “yellowjackets can be dangerous as we move into the later part of summer because they get aggressive, territorial and more intolerant, especially if you get close to their nest,” added Howard Russell, entomologist at Michigan State University.

Similarly, bumble bees and carpenter bees are most likely to emerge in force, looking to attack the threat when their nests are disturbed. At that point, it’s time to get away from them as quickly as possible.

Stings raise the fear of anaphylaxis — a potentially allergic reaction — for those who are extra sensitive to insect venom.

“If you know you are at risk for anaphylaxis from a sting, you should be carrying your prescribed epinephrine auto-injector with you anytime you go outdoors during spring, summer or fall,” stressed Jeff Weinstein, a medical operations supervisor at Global Rescue.

A bottle of Benadryl is an essential for the first aid kit. Whenever a sting produces itchy sensations or hives, the drug will help to mitigate a body’s histamine response.

Avoiding mosquito and black fly bites, and the wide range of diseases they can transmit, begins with a strong layer of defense, including long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and insect repellent. Outdoor sleeping areas, including inside tents and screened-in porches, should be covered with mosquito netting.

Weinstein said, “Fleas are more active as the weather gets warmer. When they bite, you won’t know it for a few hours. There will be several bites in a single area, and it will likely promote itching. The bite site may appear like a red sore or bump. Typical flea bites tend to occur in the bend of an elbow, the back of the knee, at the waist, ankles and armpits. Avoid scratching to reduce the likelihood of infection.”

According to the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania, reducing the risk of tick bites involves treating clothes, shoes and outdoor gear with permethrin, applying 20% DEET repellent or essential oils to the skin, wearing light-colored clothes, tucking pants legs into the socks, avoiding grassy areas, putting clothes in the dryer on high immediately after being outdoors, and performing thorough tick checks as soon as possible after but definitely within two hours of being outdoors.

And, if you find a tick embedded on you, someone else or a pet, “it is important to dislodge embedded ticks from the skin’s surface as soon as possible to minimize the effects of the bite, according to TickEase, a manufacturer of anti-tick products.

Use fine-tipped tweezers as recommended by the CDC, such as the TickEase’s two-sided tweezer, to remove the tick.

“Steadily grasp the tick; using the tweezers take hold of the tick as close as possible to the skin’s surface and pull upward in a steady motion.

“Use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean the bite area and tweezers when done.

“Attached ticks should never be disposed of or destroyed. Keep them in a plastic baggie for identification and testing. Remember a diseased tick does not necessarily transmit illness.

“Call your doctor if you experience flulike symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle or joint pain, stomach issues or a target-shaped rash that can develop within three to 30 days. If bitten by a tick in area where Lyme is prevalent, a physician may suggest and prescribe a precautionary dose of antibiotics to reduce the risk of getting infected.”

As far as spiders, “the black widow is really the most dangerous spider, but you are not very likely to come across it,” noted Weinstein. “The female black widow spider is known as the most venomous spider in North America.”

The brown recluse is the other spider with a bite dangerous to all of us that might be encountered in Pennsylvania, but most spiders in our homes, backyards and gardens are relatively harmless to anyone who does not have hyper-sensitivity to their bites.

The extension service provides an online guide to the “Commonly Encountered Pennsylvania Spiders.”

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