BUGS, BEES, SNAKES AND SPIDERS
School is out for most children, and the summer activities can begin. June, National Great Outdoors Month, is a great time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. You can picnic, hike, bike and camp. Keep in mind that you’re sharing nature with other critters – some of which are beautiful to behold – while others deserve caution. Do you know all you need to know about bugs, bees, snakes and spiders?
National Great Outdoors Month in June is dedicated to fostering an enjoyment of the U.S.’s greatest resources – our state and national parks, regional trails and other venues where we can recreate outdoors. There are organizations for everything from wilderness backpacking and mountain biking to canoeing and camping. If you can dream it, you can do it.
While outdoors, there is an excellent chance that you could encounter other living things which may be detrimental to your health. Staying safe often means avoiding bugs, bees, snakes and spiders which can carry diseases, bite with venom, or cause allergic reactions.
HERE ARE THE SMALL CRITTERS
YOU SHOULD AVOID:
- Mosquitos. They’re everywhere and they can carry malaria, Chikungunya, dog heartworm, dengue, yellow fever, eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis lacrosse encephalitis, western equine encephalitis or West Nile virus.
- Bees, hornets and wasps. A sting is normally a painful nuisance, although some people can have an extreme allergic reaction and may carry an epinephrine auto injector (EpiPen). When one bee stings, it releases a chemical which can attract other bees.
- Fire ants. These are common in the southern states, and their venom can cause a burning sensation and red bumps on the skin. Fire ants may be found on trees or in water, so keep an eye peeled.
- Snakes. Snake venom is responsible for about 15 deaths per year in the U.S. The key is to recognize the difference between the killers and the mimics. Moccasins, rattlesnakes and copperheads all have heart shaped heads (for their poisonous glands). Coral snakes have red bands that are bordered on both sides by yellow or white bands. “Red and yellow, kill a fellow. Red and black, venom lack”.
- Spiders. There are three kinds of venomous spiders: Black Widow, Brown Recluse and Hobo spiders. The bites are very rarely fatal, although the reaction to the venom can be serious and include itching or rash, muscle pain or cramping, reddish to purplish color or blister, sweating, difficulty breathing, headache, nausea and vomiting, fever and chills.
- Ticks. Ticks carry a number of diseases including anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Southern tick-associated rash illness, tick-borne relapsing fever and tularemia.
- Avoid mosquitoes. Wear mosquito repellent containing up to 30% DEET (10% for children) or wear long sleeve shirts and pants. You could avoid outdoor activity at peak mosquito feeding times (dawn and dusk).
- Avoid bee stings. Wear light-colored, smooth-finished clothing. Avoid perfumed soaps, shampoos, deodorants, cologne, perfume and banana-scented toiletries. Stay clean because bees are angered by sweat. Remain calm if you see a single stinging insect.
- Avoid fire ants. Don’t disturb or stand on or near ant mounds and be careful when lifting items off the ground, as they may be covered in ants. Carry an EpiPen if allergic.
- Avoid snakes. They could be snuggled in decaying matter, or laying out on a warm rock. Keep an eye open. If you see one – DON’T run. Back away calmly and slowly. If you hear one, don’t move until you see it, and then back away. If bitten, call 911 and remove jewelry. Use a tourniquet to restrict blood flow and place an icepack on the injury.
- Avoid spiders. Inspect or shake out any clothing, shoes or towels before use and wear long-sleeved protective clothing if camping or working near debris or rubble. Make sure your tetanus boosters up-to-date (every 10 years). Spider bites can become infected with tetanus spores.
- Avoid ticks. Repellents with DEET, showers and tick checks can stop ticks. There is a canine vaccine for Lyme’s disease if you live in a high tick concentration area.
The best way to avoid critters you don’t want to come into contact with is to be aware of your surroundings at all times. There are plenty of wonderful critters to enjoy – so please do so!