Mainly active during the summer months when the temperatures are warmer, stinging pests can cause significant concerns for your facility operations. Stinging insect populations can proliferate if nests are not treated as soon as they are discovered. They can also disrupt productivity, become a nuisance, and potentially harm employees and customers with painful stings.
Stings from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and some ants can cause adverse health effects, so it is important to stay proactive if you observe stinging pests around your facility. Some of the most common categories of sting reactions and symptoms are:
- Localized reactions: The most common types of reaction to an insect sting, symptoms include pain, swelling, warmth, redness at the site of the sting, and itching. These symptoms arise shortly after stings and take several hours to subside. Large, localized reactions may result in pronounced swelling, fatigue, and nausea and can take a week to clear up.
- Secondary bacterial infections: This type of skin infection develops if the sting site is frequently scratched and bacteria grows. Failure to adequately clean, disinfect and medicate sting sites can enable infections to occur.
- Systemic allergic reactions (affecting the whole body): Systemic allergic reactions are critical medical issues but occur in a very small percentage of stings. The most common is anaphylaxis, which can occur in as high as one out of 20 people. As many as 90 to 100 people die every year from anaphylaxis. Symptoms of systemic allergic reactions include swollen red bumps on the skin, flushing of the skin, and difficulty breathing. The reactions may vary in severity from mild skin irritation to life-threatening in some cases.
- Toxic Reactions: Resulting from toxins in venom rather than the immune response elicited by the body, toxic reactions are, in most cases, the result of multiple stings, which insert a considerable quantity of venom into the body. Symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fainting, and convulsions.
- Delayed Reactions: These reactions constitute less than 1% of all reactions to insect stings and may show up days to weeks later. Delayed reaction symptoms can vary greatly and may include inflammation of the brain, nerves, blood vessels, and kidneys and blood clotting disturbances.
If you are stung by a pest and experience any of the above symptoms or are concerned about your well-being, immediately contact emergency services, your physician, or a health care professional.
How to Help Prevent Stinging Pest Populations
When it comes to stinging pests, a variety of techniques can help keep these pests at bay:
- Secure your exterior. The most important preventive measure to help eliminate pests inside your facility is implementing exclusion tactics, including repairing, sealing off, and shutting down common entry points for pests around your facility. Inspect your exterior with your pest control provider to determine where to secure your facility.
- Maintain your property grounds. Landscaping makes your property more attractive to both patrons and stinging pests alike. Trimming overgrown branches, keeping plants from touching the exterior of your building, and removing excess wood mulch can help limit the presence of stinging pests.
- Keep it clean. Ensure you clean your facilities daily, removing food debris, wiping down surfaces, eliminating clutter, and emptying trash cans.
- Train your staff. Investing in a staff training plan that can teach your employees how to recognize types of stinging pests that frequent your facility, identify persistent hot spots, and properly report pest activity will help you address pest issues quickly and effectively. Your employees see and hear more than you might know, which makes them invaluable in helping identify pest issues.
If you find stinging pests around your property, notify your pest control provider immediately. Keeping detailed records of pests can assist them in quickly identifying the pest issue and removing the threat safely. For certain pests, such as honey bees, that are highly beneficial to the environment, relocation/removal done by a professional is paramount. If a hive is disturbed through improper removal, it can prompt an aggressive, antagonistic, and potentially medically hazardous response from the hive. Check local honeybee regulations, as many states have legal restrictions protecting these bees.
Now that you understand some types of stinging pests you may encounter and ways to help prevent and control a growing population at your facility, review your unique Integrated Pest Management plan with your pest control provider. Staying on top of stinging pests can help keep your facility protected, staff and guests safe, and operations running smoothly.