JellyFish Facts

Be Prepared To Deal Correctly With Insect Stings

Be Prepared To Deal Correctly With Insect Stings picture

Be Prepared To Deal Correctly With Insect Stings

No one enjoys getting stung by a bee, wasp, ant, or hornet. These stings are exceedingly painful, although most cause no further trouble. The fluid that the insect injects into you is a poison meant to kill prey. Yellow jackets, white faced hornets, and wasps all hunt other insects as food for their developing young, and the venom in the sting is meant to quickly paralyze and sometimes kill the victim. Some wasps have venom that does not instantly kill the prey, but only paralyzes it. These wasps drag the prey to a tunnel or other cavity and lay an egg on it. When the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the still living, but immobile food supply. The venom that all these insects inject contains an element that excites the nerves, which is why stings are so painful. The stings of hornets are more painful not only on account of their size, but because their venom contains a higher proportion of this chemical.

Removing Stingers

Only bees have stingers that must be removed. These stingers are barbed and come off in the flesh, with the poison sack still attached. Muscular contractions will keep pumping the venom in for about one minute, so it is important to remove the stinger quickly. Do not squeeze the stinger and poison sack with your fingers as this will drive more venom into the flesh. Use a knife to gently scrape the stinger out. Very pointed tweezers might also work, but care must be taken to avoid squeezing the poison sack. Bees can sting only once and then die.

Hornets, wasps, and ants have smooth stingers and are capable of stinging over and over. They will not leave stingers behind in the skin. Hornets such as yellow jackets and white faced hornets are much more aggressive than bees and wasps, and avoiding their nests or places where they may be gathered to collect food will help you to avoid stings.

Treating A Sting

Wash the area of the sting off with soap and water. There are a number of things that can help with the pain, such as a paste of baking soda and water. Applying a cold pack will help to reduce the pain and keep the site from swelling. Do not put ice directly on the skin, wrap it in a towel or washcloth if you do not have an icepack.

While most stings gradually quiet down (bee stings generally stop hurting within an hour), you should always be aware that allergic reactions are possible. If you or someone else has received multiple stings, it raises the possibility of such a reaction. It can take up to 24 hours for the reaction to develop. The worst case reaction is anaphylactic shock, which is a life threatening situation. A severe allergic reaction can cause dizziness, swelling of the throat, breathing problems, and loss of consciousness. This kind of reaction will necessitate a call to 911.

Learn about first aid or general survival techniques.

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Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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