Bees, Wasps, Hornets, Yellowjackets

Working outdoors means coming into contact with all kinds of insects.

At best, stings can cause pain and irritation, and at their worst, an allergic reaction. It is important to understand how to avoid being stung.

When working in the field, consider the following information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

  • Hornets, wasps, and bees are often attracted to flowery perfumes or soaps. Refrain from using fragrant products before working outside.
  • Light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible are best for avoiding bee stings and other attacks.
  • Human sweat can attract these insects so wear clean clothes and bathe daily.
  • Bees and hornets are attracted to the pollen that flowers produce. Be especially aware when working near flowers.
  • Wasps are predators and are attracted to garbage and leftover food scraps. Be careful around compost open piles.

What To Do If Attacked or Stung

When attacked by bees, hornets, or wasps, get to safety as quickly as possible.

  • Never swat or kill – this may elicit an attack response from them or other bees/wasps in the area.
  • Shaded areas are better for escaping these insects than open areas.
  • If possible, run indoors and close the door.
  • 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. Bees release a chemical that attracts other bees when they sting.

Removing The Stinger

Wash area where the sting occurred with soap and water before attempting to remove the stinger. Never attempt to remove the stinger with tweezers or by squeezing the wound.

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. Get medical attention as needed.

Allergic Reaction to Stings

The CDC estimates that around 100 people die each year from allergic reactions to bee, wasp, and hornet stings. If you know you have an allergy to one of them already:

  • Notify your Supervisor before working in the field;
  • Carry an epinephrine auto injector (EpiPen) and wear a bracelet, necklace, or card that contains information about your condition so you can be treated properly;

Stay with the person who was stung, watching for any allergic reactions, while you wait for help to arrive.