Meet The Deadliest Insect In America
Did You Know...
An average of 60 people die each year from stings related to encounters with bees, wasps, or hornets? That's 5 times more than the number of annual deaths from spiders and snakes combined, making them by far the deadliest group of insects in the United States (other than mosquitoes, which indirectly attribute to more deaths by way of disease transmission). Not cool. And while 60 out of 327 million people may not be overly alarming, it does at the very least mean these types of stinging insects should be respected and approached with caution. Any animal encounter that has the possibility of ending in human death is one that should probably be given the utmost attention.
So what makes bees, wasps, and hornets so potentially dangerous? Pest Control Everything discusses the top 3 reasons bees, wasps, and hornets are especially deadly.
1. Potential For Severe Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis)
For most of us, stings from bees, wasps, or hornets are common outdoor nuisances that can be bothersome, annoying, and perhaps slightly painful. For the unfortunate small percentage of us that may develop a severe allergic reaction (call anaphylaxis), however, these stings can quickly become a matter of life or death requiring immediate medical attention. Because people with severe allergic reactions have up to a 60% chance of anaphylaxis each time they are stung, precautions should be taken such as medically prescribed allergy shots to use in the event of a future sting.
Common symptoms of anaphylaxis may include some combination of the following:
- Severe skin reactions, hives, or rashes
- Severe dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Swollen tongue or throat
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
2. Potential For Multiple Stings
For the most part, bees, wasps, and hornets are intrinsically non-aggressive, stinging predominantly as a matter of self defense only when agitated, provoked, or otherwise disturbed. As a result, the overwhelming majority of stinging encounters with these insects result in a solitary or only a few stings.
Some types of bees, however, such as the Africanized Honey Bee, are notoriously aggressive, stinging in a swarming fashion collectively as a group, creating a potentially life-threatening danger for the unfortunate target. Even otherwise docile bee or wasp species may become aggressive when threatened, which is why removing the wasp nest hanging from your eave with a baseball bat probably isn't a tremendous idea.
Getting stung multiple times may introduce enough venom to induce an adverse reaction even in those who might not otherwise be prone to anaphylaxis. For this reason, anyone finding themselves in the throes of multiple bee or wasp stings would be well-advised to seek immediate medical attention.
3. Panic Makes Matters Worse...Usually
Because most encounters with bees, wasps, or hornets don't involve a swarm attack situation, remaining calm is generally to your advantage. By gradually removing yourself from the environment you can ease yourself away from other threats in the area without further disturbance. Flailing wildly about is a near-certain way to agitate other stingers in the area and give them every reason to come after you. Remaining calm, however, comes with a certain caveat. If swarming bees begin to attack, such as with Africanized Honey Bees, remaining calm may not be of much value. By the time they're done stinging you, you may either be dead or wish you were. In that case, it is best to get yourself immediately out of the area as quickly as possible, by any means possible. In other words, run like hell, shielding your face and head as much as possible along the way. Take shelter indoors at the nearest possible opportunity. Even if a small handful of bees follow you indoors, they are likely to become disoriented rather quickly and it'll be much easier to separate yourself from any remaining threat.
What NOT To Do With Bees, Wasps or Hornets...
So you discover honey bees in your chimney, or wasps coming out of your eaves, or some sort of bee hive in a brush pile. You know what you absolutely should not do? Think that your initial reaction is probably a good idea. Although most situations can be easily mitigated by a trained pest professional, disturbing these insects in any way without the appropriate application equipment, safety gear, or products can have dire consequences not just for you, but for other people, pets, or animals that might be in the surrounding areas.
As with all pest infestations, the first stop is proper identification in order to determine what removal or eradication options might be available. Do keep in mind that honey bees in particular are extremely beneficial insects, and removal (depending on their location) may be as simple as calling a bee keeper to come extract them, sometimes at no cost to you. So fight the urge to do something rash and reach out to some professional bee companies in your area for advice. You'll be glad you did.