Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.
Painful insect stings are never fun and, in the worst cases, can lead to an emergency room visit. Make sure you’re taking the necessary steps to protect yourself when dealing with stinging pests. Here are a few tips to help reduce your chances of getting stung:
Supervisors in charge of training should also be able to answer the following questions:
- Remove all people and pets from the immediate area.
- Before starting the job, spend a few minutes watching the major flight path the insects use to enter and leave the nest. Then, avoid standing in this path when treating the nest.
- Don’t make quick movements with your hands. Wasps and yellow jackets react to sudden movements. If you must move, don’t flail your hands about wildly. It will only aggravate the insects and could upset your balance if you’re using a ladder.
- Don’t wear aftershave lotion, hairspray or any other sweet-smelling materials. These odors can attract insects directly to you.
- Tuck the bottom of your pants into your work shoes so the insects can’t crawl up under your pants.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts with tight cuffs.
- Wear a tight-fitting bee bonnet when working near large numbers of wasps or hornets, or when working dangerously close to the nest. Hornets and yellow jackets have an uncanny knack of getting inside a bee bonnet if it’s not properly tied.
- If you must do the job at night, survey the nest during the day and leave a marker at a nearby shrub or on the ground so you'll know exactly where the nest exit is. You should also use a flashlight with a red filter to lessen the chance of the insects seeing you. A yellow light will lead the stinging creatures directly to you.
By following these guidelines, you can help mitigate the chances of stings.
- Is anybody in my company highly allergic to any stinging pests? If so, do not send them on this type of job.
- Does each serviceperson know what equipment they’re supposed to use on a hornet or yellow jacket job?
- Have I issued this equipment to each person responsible for doing such jobs? Remember that if a serviceperson is five miles from the office and you send them to do a "wasp special," they will tackle it with whatever they have in the vehicle at the time.
- Am I sure the insect is identified correctly?
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