Beware insect stings

06/06/2009 - 04:07

Just a warning for everyone, a few days ago a friend was badly stung by wasps that had formed a nest inside an outside shed, he was attacked when entering and required urgent hospital treatment. Now one would think this was warning enough for me , I had noticed wasp activity in one of our outbuildings, but didnt see a nest, and before anyone shouts "behind you", it was tucked up above the door. It isnt anymore , but please be careful, this is a very active time of year for nest building, and this larger type of wasp is very aggressive.A



 I was stung by a wasp last fall when we were visiting Dante's monument at Montefegatessi. It was extremely painful and the discomfort lasted for a few days. I don't wish that kind of experience to anyone.

In reply to by Gala Placidia

One night last summer someone we had just had supper with got stung by one of those big wasp things and went into shock and stopped breathing... luckily a neighbour whacked in an epi-pen and brought her back to life again... so the usual idea is to start off for pronto sicorso when stung.  Also ticks - festering bites that never heal can lead to serious complications and even brain damage so ALWAYS go to pronto sicorso for a course of anti Bi's. Chopping out the bite area follwed by a couple of stitches is the normal course of action.

There was a young man from StepkneeWho was stung on the neck by a waspWhen asked if it hurtHe said "no, not a lot;I'm glad it wasn't a hornet"On a more serious note; if you're going to the sea, there's sometimes the danger of being stung by a jellyfish or even step on a stingy fish that lives just under the sand. Jean carries in her Mary Poppins bag a small container of bicarbonate of soda. Applied quickly to the sting, this can ease the discomfort considerably.

 That is what I did and it helped... a bit. I also bought some type of ointment that the pharmacist recommended, but I do not have it here with me in Spain as I left it at our home in Bagni di Lucca, so I can't tell you its brand name. Anyway, it did not help much.....

Ticks are extremely dangerous for both humans and pets. Do not try to remove the tick unless you really know what you are doing and you are an expert in the use of tweezers. I was quite good at it when I was living in Australia.... Above all, don't try to apply any products to try to kill the tick. It is counterproductive. Go straight to the doctor or the vet. They know how to deal with the problem. 

In reply to by Gala Placidia

I agree Gala. I was once atacked by a tick in BHutan on a trek and discovered a tick burrowing into me at 230am in my tent. The application of a pair of tweezers pulled the tick to pieces followed by some antibiotic straight away. Washing the area with some whisky then taking the whisky internally. I was left with an infection that took a couple of days to clear up. A very strange sensation to see te rear legs of an animal digging into me!

The other thing to remember about wasp stings is that if you have been stung before, susbsequent stings can be far worse and evnetually your body reacts violently to what is just another sting. A close friend of ours has to carry special antidotes for without these a wasp sting could kill him. When he visits us in Italy he always tells me where they are - just in case.

I was looking for an antidote for viper bites at the pharmacy the other day and I was told that they did not sell them anymore.  The pharmacist proceeded to tell me that there were more deaths in Italy from wasp stings than viper bites! 

Ive not been stung ....yet!!  But they are so big compared to the ones in England. I dont know  why but they always seem to come after me in our garden. Im ignored by mozzies(thank god!) but the bees are some how attracted to me!! Must be my hairspray perhaps??

Pretty well known that any perfumed substance applied to your body eyc will attract flying beasties. We spent almost 5 years near Parma / Mantova on the banks of the river Po, and the Tiger Mozzies there are like helicopters with a death wish! (towards you....!!!). Any deodorants / perfumes / hairsprays etc were to be avoided at all costs.Just out of interest we take a daily dose of Brewer's Yeast that keeps the mozzies at bay.

Think we must all have our beetle noir, for me I love the bees, tolerate the wasps, but what I find hard to get used to are the hornets, at 5.30 this morning one was having a great attempt at getting through the closed shutters, to join me in the bedroom, I think its the sheer size of them and that whilst I know they are not aggressive a sting would send me off to the nearest A&E.A

We have a hornets nest, second year now and are never bothered by them. They fly around our heads whilst we eat outside but have never attacked or really come near. The tales I have heard did worry me but I leave them alone and they leave me.Sprat 

On the local Sicily news today they said that a German that lives here was bitten by a tick and died as a result - the expert brought on to comment pointed out that now is a particularly tricky period and everyone should be particularly careful in the countryside - preferably going out fully clothed rather than shorts, etc. The symptoms of a tick bite are similar to those of pneumonia so it is all about diagnosing the symptoms correctly.  

 Our Harry (sully's pup) was stung back in May.  First we knew of it was early hours of "National Holiday" Saturday he was shaking his head and generally unsettled - we assumed a tick and tried to look for it.  After about 20 mins his face had doubled in size and he was becoming almost as stressed as we were.  Thankfully we have an amazing vet who saw us at 4am on that Saturday morning and diagnosed wasp/bee sting.  Harry was injected and watched for an hour before being allowed home with a course of antihistamines.  Vet gave us a shot to bring home for future emergency use and advised it was suitable for us or the dogs!  Given how Harry reacted I am very grateful for that.  

Tips from an ex-pharmacistDEET is the only thing that works really well as a repellent1% hydrocortisone cream works very well once stungMozzy nets at the windows are a fiddle to put up but work very wellIf a tick digs its head in your skin put a blob of olive oil/vaseline on it and it will drop off without leaving mouthparts behind very quickly (the oil blocks its spiracules used for breathing)Wear a hat when gardening ,all sorts of beasts drop out of foliage!Hope this helps!

My 18 month old son has just brought an Italian tick home with him... although I know they CAN be very nasty, let's not scaremonger too much! His fell out before I had a chance to get it removed by the doctor (couldn't face doing it myself in case I did it wrong). I took him to the doctor anyway and she said most of the time, there's absolutely no problem. Obviously there is a small risk of Lyme disease or other nasty infections, but this is relatively rare.  

There is something about wasps being alkali and bees acid, or is it the other way round... if you are allergic to one apparently you are not to the other.I have heard the Brewers Yeast theory before, ie eat lots of Marmite and you won't get stung but haven't put it to the test as when I am in sunny climes Marmite doesnt feature on my menu...Also got a tip a few years back that the British Army was having such a hard time on manouvres in Scotland from the midges that they tried everything and eventually found that Avon skin oil worked the best, I tried it in majorca but can't say it was too sucessful...

 Made me oily and sticky and didn't work very well.But heard a good tip that does work. After finding you have been bitten you can apply nail varnish to bite (only tried on mozzie bites) it excludes the air and stops the itchiness. Really works. But of course, red blobs everywhere dont look good! 

In reply to by pilchard

This is so weird - I SWEAR by Avon Skin So Soft Dry Oil body spray!! - obviously suits some bods and not others.  If I am forgetful or unlucky or my husband (who refuses the Avon stuff) get bitten,  a dab of 98% Alcool does the trick - takes the sting away and obviously if you don't scratch the bite and re-dab every so often clears up quickly.

Haven't had to remove ticks from myself but from the dogs. Read on the internet that with tweezers, twist them anti clockwise as they go in clockwise. Did this with the dogs and they came out fairly easily.

In reply to by coppicer

Coppicer - we had to take our 'puppy' to the vets as she had a tick on her eyelid, right next to her eye. She told us that the way you mentioned is the correct way to remove them but because it was right on her eye, it was impossible. Jessie did have Frontline on her, but at this time of year, it just didn't seem to work.The vet put a new treatment (will try and find out the name) on her and said the tick would fall off automatically within 24 hours, which it did thank goodness - horrid creatures! Why were they invented?  

In reply to by coppicer

We found that an effective method to remove ticks was to use either a just dowsed match applied to the back of the tick and then just remove with fingers. Apparently the heat makes it withdraw its jaws so can be removed withouth leaving it's head still biting down. Any very hot object would do(heating tip of knife etc).  Also I have heard that smearing the tick in moisturiser will work as it drops of within a day.If not you get a tick with beautifully smooth skin.............................Joking apart you should alway ensure you get the head out as the bite will get infected if not. 

We are surrounded by fields used for grazing sheep,and the herds of sheep are often "walked" along the white road,along which we daily walk our dog. Ticks used to be a major problem and removing them with alcohol a tedious and sometimes lengthy process,the worst aspect of which was not  knowing when or where the tick would drop off! There's nothing worse than squashing a tick by treading on it with bare feet!!  We now use a Scalibor collar and have had no sign of ticks for the last two seasons. These are easily obtained from the Farmacia,cost about 22 euro and are effective for 4 to 6 months. It also repels sandflies,but not fleas.     

In reply to by Dylano

"We now use a Scalibor collar and have had no sign of ticks for the last two seasons." .     What do you use for the dog?

Ha,ha.Very funny(not).I would have thought that it was fairly obvious to anyone of average intelligence,that the collar is worn by the dog!

I used to have regular dreams that seemed to end with a wasp either getting in my hair or down the back of my shirt and then it would sting and I would wake up.... not a bad nightmare compared to what others might have but still not a nice way to wake up in the night.

When I went to live on a small island near Hong Kong this came to an abrupt end. I got stung by one of these beasts while sleeping in bed.... then again while sleeping in bed....then again while sitting on the coach watching TV. That was the end of the wasp nightmares....only to be replaced by ... I think you can guess.

I lived in that house for 4 months before deciding to move somewhere that wasn't infested with centipedes - I still got a few more nasty bites (in some places where only a man could ever be bitten) over the following years but I'm no longer that worried about wasps and coming to Italy seems to have cured me of the centipede nightmares.

I did see a small scorpion on my bedroom wall last night, and one in my wellington boot...I hope that I haven't found a new beastie to fear.


Kevan you could move over to my concerns re hornets, they are the only thing that concern me here, I actually like those waspy things with dangly legs that fly upside down and lay the little mud cocoons behind pictures. In fact on intrepid one is doing it now as I type. But hornets are a different thing altogether!.A

Sorry if I got off subject - back to hornets...there's some really interesting info on wikipedia about differences between European hornets and yellow jackets and hornets attacking people which I've copied below - which looks like sound advice. I usually run a mile at the site of a wasp so you won't get me killing a hornet in the first place, let alone doing it near a nest.



Alarm escalation

Hornets, like many social wasps, can mobilize the entire nest to sting in defense: this is highly dangerous to humans. The hornet alarm pheromone is used to raise alarm of nest attack, and to identify prey, for example bees.[5] It is not advisable to kill a hornet anywhere near a nest, as the distress signal can trigger the entire nest to attack. Materials that come in contact with pheromone, such as clothes, skin, dead prey or hornets, must be removed from the vicinity of the hornets nest. Perfumes, and other volatile chemicals can be falsely identified as pheromone by the hornets and trigger attack



Just thought i posted a reply but it seems to have disappeared...sorry for moving off discussion thread - have to admit I didn't real all replies but saw discussion of ticks and other beasties so thought it had already gone a bit off topcic...anyway back to hornets There's some really good advice and info about hornets on wikipedia and I've copeid a snippet below

Alarm escalation

Hornets, like many social wasps, can mobilize the entire nest to sting in defense: this is highly dangerous to humans. The hornet alarm pheromone is used to raise alarm of nest attack, and to identify prey, for example bees.[5] It is not advisable to kill a hornet anywhere near a nest, as the distress signal can trigger the entire nest to attack. Materials that come in contact with pheromone, such as clothes, skin, dead prey or hornets, must be removed from the vicinity of the hornets nest. Perfumes, and other volatile chemicals can be falsely identified as pheromone by the hornets and trigger attack.

Fascinating Kevan, wasnt meaning to bring you back on track, !, just give you something else to dream about, lucky we dont live in Japan. Perhaps learning more about things we are fearful of will help us to understand them better, I am not  yet ready to embrace a hornet though.A

Don't get me started on dangerous beasties in Asia...I'm glad to be back in Europe with nice safe dangerous animals. I have been living in fear of being attacked by wasps since watching those horrible B movies with names like 'Swarm' and 'killer Bees' and it sounds like you have to be careful here in the countryside in Italy.I was always led to believe that hornets were solitary creatures and fairly rare so up until now haven't really regarded them as a threat but I've learned something new today.Kevan

Just when I thought it was safe to go outside, having learned from Kevans post what wonderful creatures hornets were and how they can fly backwards in order to avoid you and are not attracted to food.....I sat with a refreshing glass of white wine relaxing in the warm evening sun, admiring the view (you know all that Italian stuff) when along comes Mr cheeky hornet, sits on my wine glass , takes a large slurp and then flies off, so be warned, they may not be attracted to food but like the occasional tipple.!.(Wildly off topic...but I did start the thread, get Sarah to tell you her rat story Kevan!)A

 Just been to visit a nearby friend and she has this huge red and purple raised and now scaby looking area on her neck and chest...Looks awful. She says she was grass cutting and got bitten ,(quite painful) and the thing,(?). She didn't see it, left a small black dot on her neck. This got hot and very itchy and spread all across her neck and down her chest. Visited Doc who said it was "Herpes" ???????????????????? No way. So what did the biting this time??Sprat

I've been removing then that way for years and it's not done me any harm....(woooooooooo). If you are sensible about it i.e. wash hands, don't lick your fingers etc. no harm at all. I find fingers better than tweezers because with tweezers you could apply to much force and squash the little darling leaving the head stuck in aforementioned animal which then means you have a problem. I always apply tea tree oil to the area afterwards to kill any infection.. Easy Peasy..