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The Sting

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The Sting

Summer gardens are banquets for our senses. People aren't the only creatures at the table. Honeybees seek sweet nectar and pollen; wasps and hornets feast on grubs and caterpillars.

Summer gardens are banquets for our senses. People aren’t the only creatures at the table. Honeybees seek sweet nectar and pollen; wasps and hornets feast on grubs and caterpillars. How do we get along with these busy insects without being stung and, if stung, what are the best treatments?

Co-existing with stinging insects can be as simple as calmly moving away from them. Frantic movements such as waving your arms and thrashing out can anger them. Avoid bright-coloured, flowered clothing that may attract bees, wasps, and hornets. Perfumes, scented deodorants, and hairsprays can also attract stinging insects.

The Trap

Wasp traps can help. To entice only wasps into a trap, balance a thin, round stick on which you have smeared a small amount of raw protein, (fresh hamburger, chicken, or fish - wasps don’t like spoiled food) across the top of a pail of water. The water should be about a half inch below the stick. Put a small amount of liquid detergent in the water. Place traps away from areas frequented by people and out of reach of children.

Wasps will try to get at the meat placed on the stick. To fly away, they must dip down slightly on take-off and are splashed by droplets of water. The detergent in the water prevents them from flying, so they fall in and drown.

The Sting

Honeybees are not aggressive by nature but will sting when they are directly threatened or inadvertently squeezed or crushed. Hornets and wasps, on the other hand, are more territorial and can become aggressive if they think they are threatened.

Stingers of bees differ from those of wasps and hornets. After having defended itself by stinging, the honeybee dies, leaving behind its barbed stinger and venom sac. But hornets and wasps are able to insert and withdraw their stinger allowing them to sting multiple times.

The Fix

If stung by a bee, use a fingernail or credit card edge to carefully scrape the stinger out of your skin. If you squeeze the stinger with your fingers, you may squeeze the venom sac which will pump more poison into your system.

Beware of aggressive wasps or hornets that may appear to be alone. In fact, their venom contains a pheromone–a chemical that alerts all others in the area to join the attack on the victim.

If stung, immediately ice the wound to minimize swelling. For on-the-spot relief of insect bites and stings, dab on essential oil of lavender or tea tree oil. To soothe the pain and itchiness and aid healing, try an all-natural Hypercal cream made of a combination of calendula and hypericum. Apply three times a day and use in association with the appropriate internal remedy.

For a few people, even one sting can cause a severe allergic reaction, sometimes anaphylactic shock and, rarely, death. If in doubt, seek immediate medical attention.

Being stung is always a nasty shock with the initial pain, then soreness, swelling, and heat which, within a few days, usually subsides and disappears. Take precautions against the creatures that share our gardens and enjoy the outdoors.

Insect Stings and Bites

Symptoms: Bite and sting pain with swelling
Remedy: Remove bee stinger by scraping with fingernail or edge of credit card; do not touch venom sac.
CAUTION: If sting is inside ear, nose, mouth, or around eyes, rinse with cold water to reduce swelling and go to healthcare professional immediately.

Symptoms: Area is swollen, bruised, and painful
Remedy: Arnica montana
Dosage: Take 30C every 5 min, up to 10 doses, followed by Ledum palustre. Take 6C every 8 hrs, up to 3 days.

Symptoms: Area is red and feels hot and swollen
Remedy: Apis mellifica
Dosage: Take 30C every 15 min, up to 6 doses, or hourly for first day but stop if you feel better. Take 3 to 4 times a day for next 4 days

One dose of homeopathic remedy = 2 to 3 drops of liquid in mouth OR 1 pill in mouth (allow to melt in mouth like a candy).

For all conditions: Contact a doctor if symptoms persist beyond 3 to 4 days or get progressively worse throughout the first 3 to 4 days.

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