Health Library

The Health Library is a collection of health and wellness resources created for learning and accessibility. Select a topic below for related health information or search for a topic in the search bar for more information on other medical conditions.

Preventing Insect Stings

Overview

You can reduce the chances that you or your child will get stung and have an allergic reaction by preventing or avoiding exposure to the stinging insects.

  • Be cautious when you are outdoors.

    Pay special attention to areas where stinging insects may be present, such as woods, orchards, flower gardens, picnic areas, or near trash containers or old buildings.

  • Be careful around eaves, attics, window frames, crawl spaces, and vents, where insects may nest.
  • Be cautious when eating outside.

    When eating outdoors, don't put your picnic out until you are ready to eat, and repack food as soon as you are finished serving. If you attend an outdoor event, keep away from the food serving areas and trash containers.

  • Avoid scented cosmetics, deodorants, hair sprays, lotions, aftershave, and floral perfumes, which may attract stinging insects.
  • Avoid brightly colored clothing or fabrics with floral prints when you will be outdoors.

    Some stinging insects may be attracted to them. Clothing in a single neutral light color such as white, beige, or khaki is less attractive to stinging insects.

  • Wear the right clothing when outdoors.

    Avoid going barefoot or wearing sandals or open-toed shoes. Wear closed shoes, socks, and clothes that fully cover your body. Button long sleeves, tuck long pants inside boots, and wear gloves when you are gardening. Avoid loose clothes that might entangle a biting or stinging insect.

  • If you are at increased risk of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), have someone else do yard work.
  • Carefully unfold and inspect any clothing that has been left outdoors.

    Do this before putting it on or taking it indoors.

  • Keep car windows closed.
  • Avoid sudden or rapid movements around insects.

    Don't swat or flail your arms. Move away slowly unless you are being pursued.

  • Use insect repellent and keep bug spray nearby when bees, wasps, and hornets are active.

    Choose one that works specifically on the types of insects that you or your child is allergic to. Read labels carefully—many general-purpose insecticides for home and garden use are not effective against common stinging insects.

  • Inspect your home and yard for insect nests or places where insects may build nests.

    Consider having the inspection and removal done by a professional insect exterminator. Keep in mind that stinging insects are valuable in the environment, and it is generally not effective or desirable to control them over a wide area.

  • Keep trash containers closed, and clean them frequently.
  • Keep the area around trees or shrubs clear of fruit.

    Do not allow decaying fruit to accumulate, because it may attract bees and wasps.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.