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Insect Sting Allergies
Avoiding
Fire Ant Stings
Symptoms
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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Allergies > Types of Allergies > Insect Sting Allergies

How Can I Avoid Insect Stings?

Knowing how to avoid stings from fire ants, bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets leads to a more enjoyable summer for everyone. Stinging insects are most active during the late spring, summer, and early fall. Insect repellents do not work against stinging insects.

Yellow jackets will nest in the ground and in walls. Hornets and wasps will nest in bushes, trees and on buildings. Use extreme caution when working or playing in these areas. Avoid open garbage cans and exposed food at picnics, which attract yellow jackets. Also, try to reduce the amount of exposed skin when outdoors.

Effective methods for insecticide treatment of fire ant mounds use attractant baits. These baits often contain soybean oil, corn grits combined with chemical agents. The bait is picked up by the worker ants and taken deeper into the mound to the queen. It can take weeks for these insecticides to work.

Allergists-immunologists recommend the following additional precautions to avoid insect stings:

Avoid wearing sandals or walking barefoot in the grass. Honeybees and bumblebees forage on white clover, a weed that grows in lawns throughout the country.

Never swat at a flying insect. If need be, gently brush it aside or patiently wait for it to leave.

Do not drink from open beverage cans. Stinging insects will crawl inside a can attracted by the sweet beverage.

When eating outdoors, try to keep food covered at all times.

Garbage cans stored outside should be covered with tight-fitting lids.

Avoid sweet-smelling perfumes, hair sprays, colognes and deodorants.

Avoid wearing bright-colored clothing.

Yard work and gardening should be done with caution. Wearing shoes and socks and using work gloves will prevent stings on hands and feet and provide time to get away from an unexpected mound.

Keep window and door screens in good repair. Drive with car windows closed.

Keep prescribed medications handy at all times and follow the attached instructions if you are stung. These medications are for immediate emergency use while en route to a hospital emergency room for observation and further treatment.

If you have had an allergic reaction to an insect sting, it's important that you see an allergist-immunologist.

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