November 21st, 2019

To Your Health: Enjoy the outdoors with insect precaution

By GILLIAN SLADE on August 5, 2019.

Many of us will be planning a picnic or at least be eating outside on our deck this long weekend.

Along with warmer weather, gardening and al-fresco dining we are bound to encounter wasps .

Stings are not generally inflicted by the odd wasp flying around. More often than not it is encountering them unexpectedly after inadvertently touching them.

About five years ago a Canadian woman stood on a wasps nest while gardening at her cottage. She died of multiple stings.

There have been reports locally of someone upsetting some wasps in their own garden while simply cutting the grass.

The wasps sting to defend themselves and it is incumbent on us to take precautions.

It is a good idea to avoid wearing perfumes and strongly fragranced products such as shampoo, conditioner and body creams. These are a magnet for insects.

Brightly coloured clothing is another attraction for insects.

Oversized clothing with big sleeves can be very comfortable in hot weather but be aware that it might provide an opportunity for an insect to fly in and then feel trapped close to your body.

As lovely as it is to walk around barefoot this is not a good idea on the grass or soil where there could be a wasps nest.

When you are savouring the joy of summer and eating out of doors in the fresh air, keep food covered.

If you are drinking a beverage from a tin or bottle, dispense it first into a glass so that you can immediately see if an insect has been attracted to the beverage. I have heard of someone being stung on his lips because of a wasp in his beer can.

If a wasp or bee flies near you the best thing is to remain calm. It may simply investigate and fly away.

If you are holding a beverage or some food this could be the attraction. Put the drink and food down and cover them up carefully. Slowly distance yourself. That will likely see the insect leave.

If you are driving in a vehicle where you are suddenly aware of a bee or wasp in the car pull over to the side of the road as soon as you can do so safely. Open the windows and doors and step outside yourself until the insect has gone. The insect may be feeling trapped too and is eager to get out.

If insects have decided to set up home on your property it is best to seek professional help to have them removed.

Here’s to enjoying summer and the great outdoors but remain safe from insects bites too and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at or 403-528-8635.

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