Labor Day! Last call for the public pool, for that big, extended family
barbeque - and to finally deal with an enemy that has bugged all your other
If you've been feeling hassled by horseflies and mobbed by mosquitoes,
here's how to cope with those unavoidable annoyances of the outdoors. And how
to tell if that little welt is turning into something more serious.
There are more than 170 million insects for every person on earth -- and
sometimes it seems like they're all in your backyard. Feeling flea-bitten? You
may never catch the culprit -- but most likely, it was one of these bothersome
These little bloodsuckers love water and damp conditions. Only the female
bites, injecting saliva under the skin. The red, itchy welts from mosquito
bites result from an allergic reaction to the saliva.
Some people become immune after many lifetime bites, while other people
become more allergic to mosquito bites over time.
Wearing long sleeves and pants, and using insect repellant with DEET, will
protect you from most bites.
Taking an antihistamine like Claritin before going outside can decrease
your reaction to bites.
No-see-ums, horseflies, deerflies, blackflies, and sand flies are in this
gang of pests. Their bite is more painful and annoying than mosquitoes', and
can rarely cause an allergic reaction.
Black and Red Fire Ants
On the rise, they're most common in the South. They can create a small
blister or pustule (pus-filled swelling) that comes a day or two after the
bite. This goes away in a few days. Many people who are allergic to bees or
wasps are also allergic to fire ants.
Yellow Jackets, Hornets, Wasps, and Bees
Although famed and feared for their painful stings, these striped buzzers
almost never attack unless their nests are disturbed or they are
Never swing or swat at them; it can provoke an attack. Don't crush or smash
one either -- this can release an alarm scent that may stimulate others to
If you're being buzzed, cover your face and stand still or walk away
slowly. Don't run!
Wearing long sleeves and pants, never going barefoot, and avoiding
insect-infested areas and nests will prevent most bites and stings. Spend
enough time outdoors, though, and one day you'll likely feel that telltale
pinch. How can you tell if a bite or sting is serious?
According to Pramod Kelkar, MD, an allergist and immunologist in Maple
Grove, Minn., reactions to insect bites fall into three
1. Normal Reaction
When insects bite or sting, they commonly inject a small amount of venom or
chemicals under the skin. This irritating beetle juice causes the reaction most
of us are familiar with:
A small area (less than half an inch) of redness, swelling, and
Pain, especially when stinging insects are involved.