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Stinging Insects & Allergies

Many of us, when asked, regard summer as our favorite time of year. Baseball games, picnics, family vacations and the like all contribute to the fond memories we carry throughout our lives. If you are like me, summer is when you may have been stung for the first time. Not fun!

For most of us it’s not such a big deal. You may have developed redness and swelling at the site. Mom kissed you, put a penny on it and sent you back to play. Yet, people who are allergic to stinging insect venom are at risk for a much more serious reaction. This life-threatening reaction is called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis).

Understanding the differences between a normal reaction and an allergic reaction can bring peace of mind to all you moms out there. It is also important to have an accurate diagnosis so you can manage your child’s condition and be prepared for an emergency.

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to an allergen. In stinging insect allergies, the allergen is the venom injected from a sting. Most of the serious reactions are caused by five types of insects:

1. Yellow jackets– Yellow Jackets are black with yellow markings. They can be found in various climates. Their nests are usually located underground, but can be found in the walls of buildings, cracks in masonry or in woodpiles.

2. Wasps– Wasps are slender with black, brown, red and yellow markings. They live in a circular comb under eaves, behind shutters or in shrubs and woodpiles.

3. Hornets– Hornets are black or brown with white, orange or yellow markings. Their nests are gray or brown and are usually found in trees.

4. Honeybees– Honeybees have round, fuzzy bodies with dark brown and yellow markings. They can be found in honeycombs in trees, old tires, structures or other partially protected sites. Many people don’t mind having them around. And many are starting to keep these hardworking insects around for their delicious raw organic honey. Those with serious allergies, though, can’t take the risk.

5. Fire Ants– Fire ants are reddish-brown ants living in large mounds, mostly in warmer climates. They attack with little warning, inserting highly concentrated toxins that cause burning and pain.

Knowledge goes a long way to prevent an incident. Unless you have an active hive that is being aggressively protected, these stinging insects will more than likely leave you alone. Those with severe allergies should be on heightened alert only because they have more severe consequences to contend with. Be careful and have fun!

Live Bed Bug

5 Places You Can Pick Up Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are an increasing problem throughout the United States. They are definitely more common in homes and in businesses than they used to be. It is of utmost importance to know how to check for bed bugs. They can go up to several weeks without feeding. This makes it difficult to determine if you have a problem initially. You should know the five places you may inadvertently pick up bed bugs.

  1. Hotels
    Hotels and motels are the most likely place you might pick up bed bugs and bring them home. Check your room before you stay, as well as your luggage before you leave and when you get home. Inspect the headboard and the bedding for droppings as well as rust colored stains. You may want to invest in a luggage heater if you are a frequent traveler. It can destroy anything you might have brought home with you from your trip.
  2. Gyms
    People bring their gym bags into the athletic center and leave them in a locker. The bed bugs crawl out of their bag and into the locker. Eventually the bed bugs make it into your belongings. You will unknowingly bring the bed bugs home. If bed bugs have been reported at your gym, leave your gym bag at home and travel to the gym in your exercise clothes. Bed bugs will not travel on your person so you should be fine.
  3. Schools
    There have been reports of bed bug outbreaks at schools all over the United States. It is usually the result of a student bringing the bed bugs with them as their home might be infested. The bed bugs then start infesting the building. Students may bring them home in backpacks.
  4. Second Hand Furniture
    Secondhand furniture is a very frequent source of bed bugs. The original owner may not realize that the furniture is infested. Bed bugs can also live in couches or hide in headboards or cracks in woodwork. It is important to thoroughly inspect anything that you buy used and possibly treat it before you bring it and the bed bugs into your home.
  5. Moving into an Infested Apartment
    Your new apartment or rental home may already be infested with bed bugs. It is important to check your home, especially your bedroom baseboards, before you move in. You may request that your landlord treat for them before you move in if you live in an area that has a bed bug issue.