Facts About Stinging Insects

1. The majority of insect stings in the U.S. come from yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, bees, and fire ants. These insects occur throughout the U.S. except for fire ants which are found only in the Southeastern states.
2. Over 2 million Americans are allergic to stinging insects.
3. More than 500,000 people enter hospital emergency rooms every year suffering from insect stings and 40-150 people die as a result of an allergic reaction to these stings.
4. An allergic reaction to an insect sting can occur immediately, within minutes, or even hours after the sting (although never more than 24 hrs.). Such a reaction is characterized by hives, itchiness, and swelling in areas other than the sting site, difficulty in breathing, dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure, nausea, cramps or diarrhea, unconsciousness and cardiac arrest.
5. Patients who have experienced a systemic allergic reaction to an insect sting have a 60% chance of a similar (or worse) reaction if stung again.
6. An allergic reaction in progress can be stopped with epinephrine, either self-injected or administered by a doctor. People who carry these sting kits must keep them close at hand wherever they go and remember that one dose is not always enough to stop a reaction. If you are stung, seek medical attention immediately.
7. A person suffering from insect sting allergy can have this condition treated with venom immunotherapy (VIT), a 97% effective desensitization therapy administered by an allergist.
8. Stinging insects are most active during the summer and early fall when nest populations can exceed 60,000 insects.
9. These insects are most dangerous in the vicinity of their nests. A passer-by is viewed as a threat to the safety of their home and is often chased out of the area by a sting(s).
10. Yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps can sting repeatedly. Honeybees have barbed stingers which are left behind in their victims’ skin. These stingers are best removed by a scraping action rather than a pulling motion which actually squeezes more venom into the skin.
11. Stinging insects are especially attracted to sweet fragrances (perfumes, colognes, and hair sprays), picnic food, open soda and beer containers, and garbage areas. Avoiding these attractants will lessen a person’s chance of being stung.