All I Ever Learned About Pests I Learned in Girl Scouts

- National Pest Management Association
Monday, June 2, 2014

I just retired as a Girl Scout leader after 11 years of helping girls learn a lot about themselves and the world around them. The girls weren't the only ones who learned things; that's for sure! I certainly know when to use a glue gun vs. a glue stick and I know how many cases of cookies must be sold to fund an excursion. But I learned most about the great outdoors through Scouting. In fact, after countless camping and hiking trips, I have taken away many teachings that are particularly relevant to my life now as the Bug Lady. In celebration of my retirement, I'd like to share a few lessons I learned from Scouts that are especially timely as we all prepare to spend more time outdoors.

Cover Yourself to Protect Against Ticks. Scouts are taught the importance of covering their heads with bandanas or hats when in the woods to protect against ticks. They are encouraged to wear long socks and/or pants when hiking to keep the ticks at bay, and many leaders teach the importance of using an insect repellent with at least 20% DEET for protection. As the Bug Lady, I have urged these same words of caution HUNDREDS of times. We are seeing an increasing number of tick-borne illnesses each year, so it's more important than ever to take precautions to prevent against them. After spending time outdoors, inspect yourself (and your children) for ticks. If you find any, remove them promptly as the longer they remain on the body, the more opportunity there is for disease transmission. 

Admire Wildlife from Afar. Through Scouting, I have seen bats, skunks, raccoons, mice, snakes, foxes, and have heard rumblings of nearby bears. All are amazing creatures to be appreciated in their own surroundings. We are not meant to share close living quarters with any of these animals! Mice can spread salmonella and Hantavirus, and their feces can trigger asthma and allergy attacks. Raccoons, bats and many other mammals can carry rabies. You do NOT want to take selfies with any of these animals. Remember this and make sure your children understand it as well.

Beware of Things that Buzz. If you want to see a bunch of tired girls move fast, watch what happens when they see or hear a stinging insect nearby. And, rightfully so, as stinging insects send 500,000 people to the hospital each year! While most of us want to run quickly from and swat at these buzzers, both movements are the wrong course of action. Savvy girls have learned that many types of stinging insects are easily angered by swatting movements - and just how important it is to walk quickly away from wasps and hornets, not run! 

Seal Your Food. At a campsite, all food must be stored in airtight containers so that it doesn't become a buffet for hungry creatures. How often as the Bug Lady have I said these very same words about storing food in the pantry? 

I am thankful for Girl Scouts and all that I have learned professionally and personally. I will cherish memories of too many s'mores around a campfire, fabulous trips, and folding sleeping bags into bags that are impossibly small. And, I will respect the lessons that now serve me well - ones that I now proudly share as the Bug Lady.

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