HUMANS AND WASPS: A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP THROUGH THE YEARS

HUMANS AND WASPS: A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP THROUGH THE YEARS

HUMANS AND WASPS: A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP THROUGH THE YEARS

While it is true that wasps are beneficial insects because they prey on insects that are actual pests, they can still be troublesome here in North Carolina.  This is true when they start to become threats to you and your family near your home. Wasps can sting, and their sting can be quite powerful and painful. When wasps in Charlotte start to attack, we should all be careful.

Wasps in North Carolina can be very aggressive and sting, especially when they feel threatened.  They feel threatened when you raise your arms or shoo them away when they get near you, or when you swing your arms while walking.  We may not mean them any harm, but to the wasps, we are enemies under these circumstances.

Love-hate relationships

The presence of wasps can certainly ruin an outdoor barbeque with friends, or a Sunday afternoon picnic with the family.  Wasps sting as a form of self-defense. When they feel you are a threat, they would not hesitate to sting you. And unlike the way bees sting – which is stinging just once – wasps can sting repeatedly.  This is because when bees bite, they lose their stingers, which are lodged right on to the skin of their victims.  Wasps, on the other hand, still have their stingers intact when they sting so they can use it over and over again. These stingers c0ntain venom, which makes their bites very painful.  Aside from that, it can also cause itching and swelling for up to 24 hours. Some people may also have an allergic reaction to the venom.  

Wasps are not all that bad though.  Wasps are known to help control agricultural pests, and farmers encourage their presence to help protect their crops.  They eat a wide variety of insects, and this diet proves to be quite helpful to the ecosystem.  

Most people though would rather think that wasps are dangerous pests that sting humans indiscriminately.

Symptoms of wasp stings

According to the trusted wasp exterminator in North Carolina, wasps sting only when they feel threatened.  This puts us in a dilemma, however, because how are we to know if they are feeling threatened by us?  Is it not that they were the ones who usually invade our territories? Even if we do not have any intentions of hurting them, our normal movements are already threatening to them and would result in wasp attacks.  Nobody wants to be stung by a wasp.  

For those unfortunate enough to be stung by wasps, they will definitely show symptoms.  There are 2 types of reactions: normal local reactions and large local reactions. For normal local reactions, the victim will develop a raised welt right where the wasp lodged their stingers.  He or she may have sharp pain coupled with a burning sensation around the sting site. People with large local reactions experience allergies after being stung by wasps. Symptoms for the large local reactions include vomiting, nausea, extreme redness, and swelling.  Usually, these subside on their own in at least a week.

Some people would experience anaphylaxis, which is a more severe allergic reaction to wasp stings.  Symptoms of anaphylaxis include breathing difficulties, dizziness, lightheadedness, severe swelling of the face,  sudden hypotension, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weak pulse. The victim must be taken to a health care provider once these symptoms occur after. 

How to treat  wasp stings

Wasps in North Carolina and in every part of the world have very painful stings.  It also causes itchiness and swelling. To some people, it can even be deadly.  Wasp stings are fairly common during the warmer months, so be prepared for them if you are planning to have some outdoor activity to enjoy the sun.

Please seek medical care immediately if you have any allergic reaction to wasp stings.  If you do not have any allergic reaction, you can do the treatment at home yourself.  If you only have a mild reaction, here are some things you can do:

  1. Wash the sting site with soap and water.  This is to remove any traces of the wasp venom.
  2. Place a cold pack to the sting site to reduce swelling.  Elevate the affected area. Let the cold pack stay for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. For added protection, cover with bandage the site of the bite.
  4. Use over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen to reduce pain.  Take antihistamine drugs to relieve itching as well. Use baking soda to soothe the skin.

For people with  severe allergic reactions, treatments include:

  1. Epinephrine to calm the immune system.
  2. Oxygen or steroids may be used to improve breathing.
  3. Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR if breathing suddenly stops after the sting.
  4. Always carry a wasp sting kit if you have a history of anaphylaxis.  This kit should contain epinephrine injections, which you can pull out anytime you need it
  5. Always seek medical treatment from your healthcare provider.

Types of wasps

Wasps are among the most diverse creatures in the insect world.  There are around 30,000 species, but not all are in the United States.  Here is a list of the most common wasps that we have here.  

Yellowjacket wasps

The most dangerous of all the common wasps we have here.  They grow to about ⅜ inch to ⅝ inch long, black in color with yellow markings.  Yellowjacket wasps are usually spotted near trash cans looking for food because they like to eat “human food”.  If you see their nests within your property, have it removed immediately by professional pest controllers because they sting when they feel threatened and are highly territorial.  They do not travel far from their nests, so if you spot one, their nests are definitely nearby.  

Paper wasps

They are among the most common wasps that we have here.  Their size is about ¼ to 1 inch long. They are brownish-black with reddish to yellowish markings along with their head and abdomen.  They are called paper wasps because their nests are made of papery materials made out of chewed wood, and they like to build their nests near buildings, under eaves, and on sturdy plants closer to the ground.  These nests are water-resistant. They help rid gardens of pests, but they sting humans too and can be quite painful.

Mud Daubers

Classified as solitary wasps, they grow to about ¼ inch to 1 inch in length. They are black in color with yellow markings on their legs and thorax. As solitary wasps, they fly alone and are not aggressive. They build their nests from mud, and usually near buildings, hence their name. They do not swarm and are docile unless provoked. 

Wasp hornet

A wasp hornet is highly aggressive and can attack without provocation.  Their stings are painful. They are an inch long, dark in color with light yellow or white stripes on the abdomen, thorax, and face.  Similar to the paper wasps, they also make paper-like nests out of chewed wood and their saliva. Their nests are usually found in wooded areas and are hanging on tree branches.   They also build their nests near buildings and houses. Since they can be aggressive towards humans, the removal of their nests is very important. However, do not do this yourself. Talk to a professional so they can help you in removing their nests.

Wasp Management

If you see any of these wasps flying around your house, remember to avoid direct contact, or worse, kill them when they fly near you.  Wasps release what we call pheromones when they are in danger. These pheromones alert their fellow wasps of the dangers soon to follow.  Soon after, you may find yourself swarmed by angry wasps rescuing their comrade. Keep in mind that wasps always look out for each other. 

Wasps are beneficial insects that can reduce the population of garden and agricultural pests.  They ate a farmer’s friends, so it seems. They also help pollinate flowers, so it would be such a waste to kill them. 

Here are some ways to get rid of wasps in your territory.  

  1. Always cover your garbage bins and trash cans to cut off their food source. 
  2. You may be unintentionally feeding the wasps.  Do not leave any edible materials outdoors. Wasps forage for food in trash cans. 
  3. Avoid wearing sweet-smelling or floral perfume outdoors.  Wasps are attracted to sweet scents. If they detect you wearing this, they might come near you and investigate.
  4. Do not leave spot holes in your yard, and instead fill them in.  These things have the potential to become homes to the yellow jacket wasps.
  5. Use covered drinking glass or cups if you have to drink soda outdoors.  Wasps are attracted to sweet drinks. With clear glass, at least you would know if a wasp has just flown inside your drink and avoiding ingestion of the wasp.
  6. Seal cracks, crevices, and holes around your house.  These are potential entry points by wasps in your house. 

If you need a professional, do not hesitate to call the companies that deal with pests in the home in North Carolina, Go-Forth Pest Control.

Go-Forth Pest Control is a family owned exterminator company based in High Point, NC. The company covers The Triad, The Triangle, Charlotte, Hickory, Wilmington, Columbia SC.