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Beware of wasps in late summer. These beneficial insects, normally busy hunting other insects, become pests because of their aggressive stinging behavior to protect their nests.
Everyone in my family has fallen victim to wasp stings since August arrived.
In the spring or early summer, you can stand within a few feet of a wasp nest without eliciting an aggressive reaction. But in late summer, wasps will spring off the nest to sting if you come too close. Sometimes, they will sting you far away from their nests.
This year in many places, you may encounter more wasps than normal. Hot weather has helped create an unusually large population of wasps (which include yellow jackets and hornets).
Most nests encountered around your home belong to paper wasps. They build nests under the eaves of roofs and other covered locations. Another common place for wasps to nest is in trees or bushes. Yellow jackets build their nests underground.
Unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times because they can pull out their stinger without injuring themselves. Most people are not allergic to the insect stings of wasps and bees but about two million Americans are, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Typically, a person will experience a non-allergic reaction to a wasp sting. There will be burning, itching, redness and tenderness where stung. Some individuals will have an allergic, non-life threatening reaction which includes hives or rash, swelling away from the bite site, headache, minor respiratory symptoms and stomach ache. A small number (0.5-5 percent) will have a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis.
At our home, we have tried to co-exist with the wasps because they gobble up tons of other insects that may harm our garden. But once they started causing a problem, it was time to pull out the spray insecticides. My husband experiences allergic reactions to their stings.
The best time to spray is in the morning when the wasps are in their nest and less active. Or consider putting out commercially-made hanging traps.
If you should have an allergic reaction:
•Call 911 if there are signs of a severe allergic reaction.
•Some individuals will carry their own injectable epinephrine (EpiPen) for emergency situations but still should see a doctor.
•Individuals who experience an allergic reaction to an insect sting have a 60 percent chance of having a similar or worse reaction if stung again.
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