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Stinging Insects and What to Do about Them

Working outdoors during warmer weather means coming into contact with all kinds of insects. Some may merely fly around, but others are biting and stinging. It’s important for workers to understand how to avoid being stung, know where to quickly locate a first aid kit, and help treat fellow workers who have been stung. 

Hornets, wasps, and bees are often attracted to flowery perfumes or soaps, so workers who spend a great deal of their time outside should refrain from using fragrant products before coming to work. Products that have a banana odor are particularly appealing to these insects.

Lightly-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible are best for avoiding bee stings and other attacks. Human sweat and oil can attract these insects, so workers need to be sure to wear clean clothes and bathe daily.

Bees and hornets are attracted to the pollen that flowers produce. Try to avoid working near flowers whenever possible. Wasps, on the other hand, are predators, and they are attracted to garbage and the remains of human food. Make sure to clean up all work areas after meals to avoid attracting these pests.

After a Sting

When attacked by bees, hornets, or wasps, get to safety as quickly as possible, as bees release a chemical that attracts other bees when they sting. 

  • Shaded areas are better for escaping these insects than open areas
  • If possible, run indoors and close the door
  • If you are driving and discover an insect inside, you should slowly stop the car and roll down all the windows to let it escape
  • Never jump in the water to avoid a swarm of bees or hornets, because some species may stay above the surface and continue to sting when you come up for air

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that around 100 people die each year from allergic reactions to bee, wasp, and hornet stings. Workers who know they have these allergies should carry an epinephrine auto injector (EpiPen) and a medical signifier, such as a bracelet, necklace, or card, that contains information about their condition whenever they work outdoors. If workers do get stung, have someone stay with them to watch for any allergic reactions

The area where the sting occurred should be washed with soap and water before attempting to remove the stinger. Do not attempt to remove it with tweezers or by squeezing the wound. Instead, run a clean fingernail or gauze from a first aid kit over the sting to draw the stinger out. Ice can be applied to a recent sting to help reduce swelling. Refrain from scratching or picking at a sting, so that it doesn't become further irritated or infected.

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