And what to do about it if you are on the painful end of a wasp sting!
Wasps buzz around us all from spring to summer and for most of this time, aren’t really a problem.
However, come late summer, wasps can become ‘drowsy’ as the heat of the summer begins to fade. And this can make them more of a problem.
Why do wasps sting and when is it more likely?
- Under threat
Wasps sting when they feel under threat or, more precisely, when their nest is under threat.
And this is important information if you have a wasp nest in or close to your home. You may be walking past, with no intention of harming it.
To a wasp, your presence means interference and that means one thing: they must defend the nest.
From this point on, an agitated wasp gives off a chemical that tells the whole nest that it is under threat. It zooms off to find the thing that is causing a problem – you.
It doesn’t follow, however, that the rest of the nest will appear and sting you to bits, usually one sting is enough.
But the nest can react en mass, especially if someone tries to move the nest without making the wasps drowsy first – or kill them humanely – you can be for a whole world of pain.
- Late summer drowsiness and hunger
Wasps sting when under threat but they tend to sting more in late summer. This is because the natural social structure of the wasp nest is breaking down.
Wasps don’t live forever. In fact, they live from spring to early autumn. In late summer, mated female wasps will leave the nest to find a safe place to hibernate over winter.
As a result, a chemical is released in the nest to start the ‘closing down’ process. And this makes the wasps drowsy. They also become hungry as the food supplies become short. They go off in search of food that they can digest – usually sugar from fermented fruit – hey ho drunk and drowsy wasps!
What is a wasp sting really like?
A wasp sting, in reality, is a very painful experience.
There are various remedies but sometimes, the simplest is the best. Gently wash the sting with soap and water to remove as much of the venom as possible. Use a cold pack to reduce the swelling and numb the pain.
Keep the wound clean and dry to prevent infection. You may want to cover with a plaster. You may also find that an antihistamine cream and tablets help to remove the itchiness and the swelling too.
Try not to scratch as not only does this open the wound the potential infection but it also helps in spreading the venom, making it worse!
There is, however, a more sinister effect of a wasp sting, known as anaphylactic shock.
You won’t know if you are susceptible to this until it happens, which is why it is important for everyone to know what to do in the event this shock reaction happens.
The venom of a wasp sting can send the body into shock. This, in turn, tells your body to shut down vital organs leading to the throat swelling and people being unable to breathe. Unless someone in anaphylaxis shock is treated quickly, it can be fatal.
An injection of adrenalin is needed to give the body a boost and people who know they have this condition – it doesn’t just happen with wasp stings but other allergens too – will carry an adrenaline pen.
The spring-loaded needle delivers a pre-measured dose, enough to help the person whilst medical help arrives.
No one should share their home, outbuildings or garden with a nest of wasps. Their behaviour can be unpredictable.
The solution is to deal with the wasp nest but this should only be done by a qualified pest controller.
Easily and quickly done, it is an affordable solution that will leave you free to enjoy your home or garden without being harassed by an irritated wasp.