Stinging Insects Put a Damper on Summer Fun

FAIRFAX, Va. (July 27, 2011)Summer is here and people across the country are enjoying backyard barbeques and days by the pool. But the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) cautions that anyone spending time outdoors this season should be aware of the health threats posed by stinging insects like hornets, yellowjackets, wasps and Africanized "killer" bees. These and other stinging insects send more than half a million people to the emergency room every year, the NPMA reports.

"Everyone knows that insect stings can be unpleasant, but few people stop to think about the serious health threats posed by these pests during the summer months," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "If a hive is provoked or threatened, they can swarm and sting en masse, which can be life-threatening especially for anyone who has an allergic reaction. For this reason, we strongly discourage homeowners from attempting to handle a stinging insect infestation on their own and instead recommend they contact a pest professional."

When outdoors, be aware that stinging insects can build nests underground, in trees, shrubs, overhangs, eaves, utility poles, tires, houses, sheds and other structures, depending on the species.

The NPMA offers these tips to avoid stinging insects this summer:

  • Wear shoes, especially in grassy areas.
  • Overseed grassy areas to get better coverage, as this will deter ground-nesting insects.
  • Paint/stain untreated wood.
  • Remove garbage frequently and keep trashcans covered.
  • Do not swat at a stinging insect as it increases the likelihood of an aggressive reaction.
  • Avoid wearing sweet-smelling perfumes.
  • Ensure all doors and windows in your home have screens that are in good condition.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if stung, as reactions can be severe.
  • Do not attempt to remove a nest on your own. If you have an infestation, contact a qualified pest?professional.

For more information on stinging insects, or to find a pest professional, visit

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.