Bee Ready for Spring’s Buzz

Bites, Stings and Creepy Things

Situational Awareness also includes being on the lookout for environmental dangers. Stinging insects send over 500,000 people to the emergency room each. Each spring we see flowers bloom, trees budding, a hint of green in the grass and birds chirping. As the temperature is warming up, life is starting to stir….and buzz.  

Let’s take a look at a few common “critters” out there that can bite or sting and what you should do if you happen to get injured by one.

Yellow jackets and bees

Yellow Jackets are a type of wasp that is omnivorous and will eat meat, spiders, and other insects in addition to plants whereas bees are herbivores who only eat plants.Yellow jackets are very territorial in nature and a colony can get quite aggressive when disturbed. Their stingers are not barbed like bees so they can sting repeatedly and can be a danger to humans. Bees can only sting once and will die soon after stinging.  Stinging insects send over 500,000 people to the emergency room each year, and yellow jackets and bees can be deadly to people who are allergic.

During the early fall, Yellow Jackets tend to become more aggressive as their natural food source declines. Since they are attracted to sweets and proteins, you may happen to notice them more around trash receptacles, barbecues and at tailgating events near the beer or sugary drinks.  The combination of Yellow Jacket numbers being at their peak coupled with an increased level of aggression, the fall months are the most dangerous time for being stung without provocation.

Wasps on hive

A few steps to follow to avoid being stung by a Yellow Jacket are:

  • Stay calm. This can be very difficult but it’s very important to not make sudden movements when you see yellow jackets. Back away slowly if you come across them and avoid swatting at them. Get away from the immediate area as soon as possible.  
  • Cover any open food or drinks. This tip especially applies to outdoor picnics. Be cautious drinking from an open container like a soda can where the bee or wasp could be inside of the container.
  • Avoid strong, highly sweet smells.
  • Avoid bright colors.
  • Keep clean.
Bee on white flower

How to treat a bee sting

  • Remove the stinger. Bees leave a stinger that contains venom. Take the stinger out as quickly as you can. It is advisable to scrape it from the skin because pulling it out can release more venom but if you find this difficult to do, better pull out the stinger than risk getting a more severe reaction.
  • Wash the area. The area stung by the bee will usually swell and have reddish coloration. Wash it carefully with soap and water. Do not scrub.
  • Apply a cold compress. A cold pack wrapped in a cloth can help alleviate the pain. This can also slow down the action of the venom.  You can also make a paste out of baking soda and water, which you can then apply to the affected area for about 15-20 minutes.  
  • Relieve the pain and itch through medication. A bee sting can itch and hurt a lot. You can use a topical cream or household ammonia to relieve the itch while you can take acetaminophen for the pain. You can also drink antihistamine to prevent or cure an allergic reaction.  
  • Mayo Clinic recommends you see immediate emergency treatment if you experience any of the following after a bee sting:
    • Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Swelling of the throat and tongue
    • A weak, rapid pulse
    • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Loss of consciousness


Snakes are effective, all-natural pest control. Snakes won’t raid your garden or chew up your wires, but they will eat the critters that do. And due to their non-competitive nature and ability to fast for long periods, vipers (rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths) are more effective at controlling prey populations than bird or mammal predators. We may not like the idea of seeing venomous snakes in our yards or while we are out for a hike, just know that the non-venomous snakes such as kingsnakes, or racers eat venomous snakes. Others, like gophersnakes and bullsnakes, compete with venomous snakes for food. Most bites happen to people who try to handle or kill snakes; the rest are due to people not watching where they put their hands or feet. Once you spot a snake, you can avoid being bitten by keeping a safe distance. Take a look at some statistics.

  • Highest bite rates are in southern states.
  • 90% of bites occur April to October.
  • 50% of bites occur between 2 and 9pm.
  • Male-female ratio of bites 9-1.
  • 50% of victims are males ages 18-28.
  • 80% of all bites are on fingers and hands.
  • 15% are on feet and ankles.
  • 40% of bites are not “accidents”.

First Aid for Snake Bites

  • Stay calm and act quickly.
  • Prevent a second bite. Get the person away from the snake.
  • Identify and describe the snake. Take a photo if possible.
  • Apply a wide, flat constriction band.
  • Splint and immobilize.
  • Remove jewelry or constricting clothing near the bitten area that may constrict swelling.
  • Transport to hospital ASAP for possible antivenom treatment.


  • Do not use your mouth to suck out the venom.
  • Do not pack the bite area in ice.
  • Do not cut the wound with a knife or razor.
  • Do not use a tourniquet.  
  • Do not drink alcohol, caffeine or take any medication.

More information on snake bites can be found on the CDC Website.

Snakes are important predators and prey. Their presence indicates a healthy and productive ecosystem. Create a safe, wildlife-friendly yard. Use lights when walking at night. Create clear, wide paths for safe walking. Look before placing your hands and feet in holes or crevices. If hiking, wear boots that cover your ankles. Stay on clearly marked paths. If you can’t see, use a long stick to disturb vegetation and hidden animals. Make sure you carry a cell phone. 


The vast majority of spiders are harmless and serve a critical purpose: controlling insect populations that could otherwise devastate crops. Without spiders to eat pests harmful to agriculture, it’s thought that our food supply would be put at risk.

A few interesting facts about spiders:

  • Of the 49,000 species of spiders worldwide, some 4,000 are in North America.
  • All spiders produce silk.
  • Only one species is mostly vegetarian.
  • Spiders are nearsighted.
  • Females can lay up to 3,000 eggs at one time.
  • Jumping spiders can jump up to 50x their own length.
  • The daddy long-legs you see might not actually be a spider.

Most spider bites cause only minor injury. Bites from a few spider species can be dangerous.

Seek medical care immediately if:

  • You were bitten by a dangerous spider, such as a black widow or a brown recluse.
  • You’re unsure whether the bite was from a dangerous spider.
  • You have severe pain, abdominal cramping or a growing wound at the bite site.
  • You’re having problems breathing or swallowing.
  • The area of the sore has spreading redness or red streaks.
spider on plant

To take care of a spider bite:

  • Clean the wound with mild soap and water. Then apply an antibiotic ointment three times a day to help prevent infection.
  • Apply a cool compress over the bite for 15 minutes each hour. Use a clean cloth dampened with water or filled with ice. This helps reduce pain and swelling.
  • If possible, elevate the affected area.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed.
  • If the wound is itchy, an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) might help.

For pain and muscle spasms, your doctor might prescribe pain medicine, muscle relaxants or both. You might also need a tetanus shot.

spider at night in spider web
Be Ready For Spring's Buzz

Be Ready for Spring’s Buzz

Situational Awareness of these creatures will help you be ready for spring’s blooms and buzz.  Don’t let the thought of coming across bees, snakes, and spiders keep you from enjoying the great outdoors!  We need these creatures as part of a healthy ecosystem.  Be aware and be prepared!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *