During the summer time, stinging insects become much more active. Each year some 500,000 people are sent to the hospital due to stings from insects such as yellow jackets, honeybees, paper wasps, and hornets. Bee and wasp stings can cause significant reactions, ranging from pain that is localized to serious or potentially fatal conditions.
In order to keep your family healthy and safe from potential stings, it is important to know everything you can about bees and wasps and how to handle their presence.
What is the Difference Between Wasps and Bees?
Wasps and bees are often mistaken for one another since both are capable of delivering painful stings. Identifying the difference between wasps and bees is important when it comes to treating stings and identifying infestations in your home or yard. Bees measure around 2.5cm long with hairy bodies while wasps vary in size but have smooth and shiny skin. Most bee colonies can have populations close to 100,000 while wasps have smaller colonies.
What Are the Most Common Bees & Wasps Found in Atlanta?
In the Atlanta area there are several species of both wasps and bees that residents and their pets may come in contact with. Yellow Jackets is a generic term that is applied to a number of wasp species. The most common species in Georgia that is often referred to as a yellow jacket is Vespula. Yellow jackets build nests out of paper with some nests getting quite large. Nests can be found in hollow trees, attics, roof soffits, and other areas that are not frequented. Yellow jackets will keep their distance from humans unless their nests are disturbed. If you get too close to their nest they will attack in numbers and their stings are quite painful. Paper Wasps build nests out of paper as well but unlike yellow jackets they usually build their nests in exposed areas such as window frames.
Honey bees are a social species that lives within colonies with the queen. Honey bees are only aggressive when they feel their colony is in danger. A honey bee is only capable of administering one sting in its lifetime since their stinger is attached to their intestines. When a honey bee stings it releases a venom that includes pheromones that will alert other bees telling them to attack. Unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times throughout its life.
How to Treat Stings from Bees and Wasps
If you have been stung by a bee or a wasp, unless you are allergic, there are a few steps you can take at home before seeking medical treatment. Remove the stinger with tweeters or scrape it away using your fingernail – do not pinch the stinger as this can inject more venom. Control swelling to the area by icing it down. If you were stung on your arm or leg, elevate it. For pain, take an over-the-counter painkiller such as ibuprofen. If you’re feeling itchy apply a mixture of baking soda and water or a calamine lotion. Seek emergency care immediately if you’re experiencing shortness of breath, tightness of the throat, abdominal pain, fast heartbeat, or loss of consciousness.
What if I have Wasps or Bee Nests in My Yard?
While you might be tempted to douse chemicals or water on a visible nest in your home, it is best that these infestations be left to professionals. Spraying the nest will cause the pests to go into defensive mode which will trigger aggressive behavior and increase the chances of an attack. A pest professional will take the time to carefully remove the nest and relocate it to a safer location. Bees are very important creatures and if possible their nests should be saved and relocated to an area where they are no longer a nuisance.
For more information about bees and wasps in Atlanta, call your local Truly Nolen Atlanta pest professionals at (678) 561-2847.