The Sting in the Tail End of Summer 

    This hot summer has been a bumper time for wasps. However, the worst wasp behaviour is still yet to come according to pest control experts.     Early frosts usually kill wasps. An extension in warm weather extends their lifespan, allows them to thrive, multiply and even grow in size.    Our anticipated warm autumn could be a peak time for painful stings.    This is because in autumn the queens hibernate leaving the worker wasps at a loose end and on a frantic search for sugar.      This is when wasps can become more aggressive in their search for food – interrupting your BBQ, picnic or quiet pint in the pub garden.    Berries and rotting fruits are a great food source for wasps. They are also plentiful in autumn. Unfortunately the rotting fruit makes the wasps slightly drunk – and in the mood for a fight. This is when they are most likely to become aggressive and sting. Wasps are also fond of beer and adore cider and in a drunken stupor, they are far more likely to sting you.    Wasps don’t die after one sting, but can sting you several times.    A wasp in distress emits a pheromone that calls for back up – not good news if you have a wasp nest nearby!    Wasp nests contain between 5,000 and 10,000 wasps at the peak of summer.     The British Pest Control Association reports that while last year pest controllers across the country destroyed 1-2 wasp nests per day, this year the number of nests destroyed has jumped to as many as 15 per day.     And the bad news is that if the good weather continues, as is expected, more queens will thrive in the nests and 2019 could also be a bumper year for wasps.          Wasp stings are unpleasant for everyone but for around one in 200 people, can cause anaphylaxis. Each year between 2 and 10 people die as a result of anaphylactic shock caused by a wasp or bee sting. Wasp stings cause twice as many deaths due to anaphylaxis as bee stings.     The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved a wasp sting vaccine called Pharmalgen for people vulnerable to having a severe reaction to a sting. It works by a series of injections introducing more levels of wasp or bee venom to de-sensitise the patient’s immune system.      

Prevention is better than cure. Here are our top tips to avoid getting stung this September: 

  Remain still. Wasps are excited and become enraged by movement so don’t swat at them or flail your arms.    If you do need to leave, run quietly and in a straight line.    Protect your head and face – common target areas for wasps.    Cover your arms and legs.    Don’t walk around barefooted, especially in autumn when drowsy wasps may be on the grass.    Carefully dispose of rubbish, especially soft drink cans.    Seal food and drink to reduce attracting wasps.    Seal your bins to prevent wasps from looking for food inside them.    Don’t leave your drink unattended. Do check your drink before drinking in case a wasp has flown into your can or glass. Closed cartons of drinks with a straw are useful especially for children.    Avoid bright clothing. Wasps are attracted by white and yellow. However, like most insects they don’t recognise the colour red.    Avoid strong smells such as perfumes, hairspray, heavily scented deodorants which attract stinging insects.    Wasps don’t like the smell of mint. Plant peppermint in the garden to help deter wasps from building a nest there.    Dilute peppermint oil with water and spray areas that often attract wasps.    Following our top tips should mean you enjoy a sunny and sting-free September. However, if you are unlucky enough to be stung by a wasp click here to read our piece on Top First Aid Tips for insect bites and stings.    To read our piece on anaphylactic shock and acute allergic reaction click here.      It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or?Online First Aid course?to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit?https://firstaidforlife.org.uk?or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.  First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.  First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.     

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