Why do wasps sting, and what can we do about it?

Anyone can be stung by wasps at some point in their lives, especially in summer. And even if this event doesn’t happen too often, we fear wasps and try to kill them on sight.

It’s normal to feel a little respect for wasps, especially if you’re someone who just got swollen from the sting, but what about those who are allergic to wasp stings?

Our bodies react differently to wasp stings, whether it’s mild skin reactions, severe swelling, or anaphylactic shock.

In this article you will discover the reasons why wasps sting and the steps you should take when this happens. But first let’s understand how wasps work when they sting.

Getting to know wasps better

In contrast to bees, wasps stay alive after stinging a person. In fact, they can sting different organisms, several times in their lives. This is one of the reasons why wasps are deadly, especially if you suffer from allergies.

Wasps attack in large numbers, and the moment they detect any threat, they release a pheromone that summons all the soldier wasps in their swarm. They chase their potential enemies over long distances until they attack them, stinging them repeatedly.

When the wasps sting, they leave painful wounds, although you probably won’t see much on the skin at first. After a while, the area will begin to redden and swell as is often the case with these injuries.

Once swelling occurs, you may see a white mark in the centre of the rosette, which is where the stinger penetrates your skin. Only female wasps sting, as males have no stinger.

Why do wasps sting?

Wasps are most likely to sting in late summer, which is due to the way their colonies develop and operate at that time. They begin to prepare for hibernation, after which the wasp nest slowly dies and stops producing worker wasps.

The remaining workers become disoriented by the change, and lack of food they had in summer. This event leads them to seek nutrients elsewhere. The wasps’ diet is diverse, which is why they often approach people’s homes.

Many smells attract these insects. If for some reason you leave your window open, wasps will easily enter your home. Hungry wasps will be happy to visit your rubbish bin.

If you see a solitary wasp in your home, it probably won’t do anything to you. But if you decide to wave your arms to scare it away, that’s when it becomes more dangerous. Wasps at this point sense that they may starve to death, and decide to sting if they think their life depends on it.

Wasps also sting people because of their protection nature. If within reach, these insects will sting to ward off threats to their territory.

What to do if you are stung by a wasp?

Vespula germanica

Act on the injury

Wasps do not leave the sting buried in the skin, so we recommend that you do not remove it. There are natural alternatives that could remedy wasp stings, for example vinegar. However, these solutions are not scientifically proven to provide lasting relief.

Wash the stung area with soap and water to remove as much of the venom as possible. Applying a medical disinfectant also helps the sting to heal.

Put an ice pack on the sting to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Avoid scratching the area, as this will increase the itching and the size of the bite.

If the situation with the sting worsens, call an ambulance and visit any emergency room near your home.

Preventing wasp stings

Experts confirm that wasp stings are a way for these insects to defend themselves. The moment they sense a threat, they become violent and are incited to sting, so it is not a good idea to approach the nest in these circumstances.

Stay at a healthy distance from the nest of these insects, as wasps will defend their territory at greater distances compared to bees. Do not destroy or remove wasp nests without protective clothing.

If swarm and attack, we suggest you avoid waving your arms. Back away quickly and without flailing, so that even if you are stung, there are not too many of them.

During spring, wasps hunt flies and aphids to feed the larvae of the colony. At this time, wasps usually become aggressive only if they feel that the nest or larvae are threatened.

Keep wasps away

  • Avoid panicking if you have wasps near you. Just stay calm and slowly move away from where the insects are.
  • Don’t cause a fuss, wave your arms or try to hit the wasps, as this will make them more violent.
  • Try to avoid sweet or floral smells, especially if you suspect you are going to a place where there are wasps.
  • Don’t wear bright or flashy colours on your clothes or accessories, as this tends to attract wasps.
  • Try to stay away from orchards. Soft fruit plants and their containers attract wasps that want to feed.
  • Cover drinks you are consuming, as if nozzles are left unattended, wasps are encouraged to crawl in.
  • Cover food and drinks when eating outdoors to keep wasps at bay.
  • keep personal hygiene by making sure your hands and face are clean after eating or drinking food.

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