Prevention and control

You run the greatest risk of being stung by bees when you are near their hive. If you are allergic to bee venom, it makes sense to stay away from the hives. It is also a good idea to avoid walking barefoot in flowering clover meadows or among other flowers that the bees are attracted to. Honeybees are useful animals. Not only because they collect honey, but especially because they pollinate many important crops. However, it is legal – and reasonable – to fight colonies that have settled in unacceptable parts of a house and no beekeeper wants to collect it. A thorough, repeated dusting of the hive entrance with an insect powder will quickly kill the colony.

It is important to close the hive entrance thoroughly after the eradication, and remove beeswax and honey; otherwise it will tempt other swarms to settle in the same place. Do not close the hive entrance while there are still live bees inside. It will just force the bees to find other entrance holes – often inside the house.

Rules on beekeeping. It is legal to keep bees in the garden. The apiaries should be placed at least 6.5 meters from a public road. If the beekeeping is bothering neighbors, it may be prohibited or restricted according to The Working Environment Act of Denmark.

Who can help? Danish Beekeepers’ Association maintains a list of beekeepers that are interested in retrieving swarms of bees. You will find the list by visiting our website www.biavl.dk .The list is sorted by the beekeeper’s zip codes, and there are phone numbers you can call. Access to the list is free. The list can also provide information about who to call for help with a wasp nest. These, however, demand payment.

Dealing with the problem

pharmacist who caught the bed bugs

Fig 2. The pharmacist who caught the bed bugs, drugged them with chloroform and killed them with a hammer, we have found in a German pre-war leaflet about bed bugs. Also today, ineffective pest control is a problem. When control does not work it is often due to insufficient knowledge about the animal species and biology as well as improper use of insecticides.

The biting and stinging animals are different and you have to deal with each problem in accordance with the biology of the biting or stinging animal. Therefore, it is important to start by determining what kind of animal you are dealing with.

If you catch the animal in the act the matter is clear. But often the animal is gone, or it is so small that it is not detected. In these cases, you only have the more or less characteristic skin symptoms to rely on, and they can rarely be used for a certain diagnosis.

The animals, however, as evidenced by the following chapters, each have their own very specific way of life. They can only behave in certain ways. This means that there will always be a number of circumstances, which can be used to confirm or rule out the suspicion, or even completely eliminate certain options.

In many cases, control and prevention is not possible or would be disproportionate in relation to the discomfort. This applies to most of the animals you are bitten or stung by outdoors.

However, when dealing with animals such as head lice, pubic lice, cat fleas, itch mites or fur mites, eradication and control is almost always necessary.

Prevention of bites and stings

The chances of being attacked by animals that bite or sting are really quite high. It is not possible to provide complete security against such attacks, but certain pre- cautions can be taken, as for example by not bringing old birds’ nests into the house.

If one is bitten the first thing to do is to identify the species involved, and to trace where it came from. If this is not possible, the position of the bite (see p. 52) and an analysis of possible sources of attack will often provide useful clues.

Protection by nets

If the animals involved come into the house from outside, for example mosquitoes and gnats, nets fixed over the windows and doors will be effective. In the absence of nets, ordinary curtains will provide a certain amount of protection, especially if they have been treated with some kind of deterrent.

Deterrent substances

There are several substances that deter insects and mites and these can either be sprayed on to the skin and clothes or used as an ointment. The best of them remain effective for about 4 hours. They are mainly for use outdoors and do not really provide a solution to the problem indoors.

The insecticide pyrethrin also acts as a deterrent and can, for example, be sprayed on to shoes and socks if one has to enter a flea-infested house. Pyrethrin is also included in some of the fumigants which may prove very effective in keeping mosquitoes away.

Insecticides

Certain insecticides, obtainable from the chemist, can be used directly on the skin or in the hair, and these are effective against mites and lice. Other pests, such as fleas, ticks and bed bugs, only attack from time to time, and so it is not sufficient just to treat oneself, but better to treat their hiding-places and surrounding areas with an insecticidal spray or powder.

Wasps and hornets

wasp and hornets

wasp and hornets

A wasp uses its sting for killing prey, but it can also use it very effectively as a defensive weapon. The sting has associated glands which produce venom.

A hornet sting can be very painful, but is normally not dangerous, as the amount of venom injected is very small. In some cases, however, people do become ill after being stung by a hornet. This is due either to the venom being injected directly into a blood vessel or to the victim being hypersensitive to one or more of the substances contained in the venom. A sting in the mouth or on the neck can be serious, as the mucus epithelium may become very swollen, making it difficult for the victim to breathe. An ordinary uncomplicated sting can be treated with ammonia or alcohol or with a cold poultice, followed by an antihistamine ointment. If the victim becomes pale and feels unwell with giddiness and nausea it is advisable to seek medical advice immediately.