Q&A with Dr. Parada on Insect Bites and Stings

August 1st, 2014


Common questions about bee stings and mosquito bites are addressed

Summer warmth and sun are finally here. Unfortunately, so are many stinging insects. Makes us wonder, doesn’t it? Well, wonder away and ask what you will. I will try to help you understand the answers to your questions.

Bee Stinger

Do carpenter bees sting?

Yes and no. The male carpenter bee is unable to sting (although it may scare you because of its tendency to close in and hover near motion – like a person waving his/her arms!). The female however, is capable of stinging but typically must be extremely provoked before she will sting.

What is the best thing to do for a mosquito bite?

mosquito bite typically results in a red bump on the skin that itches. As tempting as it may be, scratching a mosquito bite is a bad idea on two counts. First, it only agitates the venom and increases your itching. Second, over-scratching might cause breaks in the skin that can leave room for an infection.

The itch is due to histamine release in our body in response to the mosquito’s saliva which is injected while they’re drinking our blood. Histamine is one of the main drivers in allergic and inflammatory reactions and causes swelling, redness and itching. So, scratching only stirs up the saliva and increases the histamine response.

All bites should be washed with soap and cold water. The best remedies are antihistamines and anti-inflammatories – such as Benadryl, NSAIDS, and steroids. Over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone cream may be indicated for intense itching and larger reactions. If there are signs and symptoms of infection you may need to see your doctor for antibiotics.

Which stinging insects can cause allergies in people?

Basically any stinging insect can set off allergic reactions in people. There are two main factors behind these allergic reactions.

One is the amount of foreign substances injected by the insect (i.e., stinger venom) when it stings you. For instance, a bee sting with the stinger left in place may continue to pump venom for a few seconds, while a stinger that is promptly removed (without squeezing the attached residual venom sac) will inject less venom into you. More venom will always induce more symptoms (i.e. a greater reaction) than less venom.

The second is how allergic someone is to the venom. Everyone feels and reacts to bee stings, but some people only have local pain and swelling that subsides after a couple of hours. On the other hand, some people are superbly allergic to bee venom and even the most minor of stings will set off a life threatening allergic (i.e., anaphylactic) reaction. Anyone who falls into this category should take special precaution against bee stings and carry an EpiPen for emergency administration should they get stung.

How do I properly take out the stinger from a bee?

Speed trumps technique when it comes to removing bee stingers. Studies have shown the amount of venom delivered often does not differ whether the sting is pinched or scraped off. On the other hand, even a delay of a few seconds allows for more venom to be injected into the skin tissue.

Some advocate using the edge of a credit card to gently scrape the stinger off as perhaps this might decrease the likelihood of unintentionally squeezing more venom into the sting. But, a credit card may sometimes be a readily available tool that is at hand. Tweezers are also a good tool.

Once the stinger is removed, reduce pain and swelling by applying a cold compress. This not only provides symptomatic relief, but cold also causes constriction of blood vessels which helps to stop the spread of the bee venom.

What is the best way to neutralize bee or wasp stings?

The stinger should be removed as quickly as possible without regard to method. This may not neutralize the venom, but it may help to minimize the amount of venom that is injected into the tissues

There is a plethora of traditional home remedies that have been suggested for bee stings including damp pastes of tobacco, salt, baking soda, papain, toothpaste, clay, garlic, window cleaner, onions, aspirin or even copper coins taped over the bee sting. There is little concrete evidence to support the use of these remedies. The truth is that neutralizing a sting is unlikely because the venom is injected under the skin and into the tissue, where anything that is topically applied will not readily penetrate.

10 Steps to Reduce Pests at Outdoor Festivities this Summer

July 31st, 2014
  1. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so if you are planning a barbeque before sunset, plan on having plenty of insect repellant containing an EPA-registered active ingredient like DEET or Picaridin available for you and your guests. Adorn your deck or patio with citronella candles that can help minimize the presence of mosquitoes in the area, and wear long sleeves or pants to avoid bites.
  2. Yellowjackets and other stinging insects are attracted to fragrances from shampoo, perfume and candles — not to mention food and drink. Avoid using scented items beforehand and provide clear plastic cups for your guests as aluminum cans and plastic bottles are good hiding spots for stinging insects.
  3. Prior to the party, check screen doors and repair any holes. And with guests coming in and out of your house, make sure the doors close behind them.
  4. Keep all food and beverages in sealed coolers and containers.QR_CODE_FACEBOOK_634469218399790224-260x300
  5. Keep garbage containers sealed and away from guests.
  6. Clean trash, spills and crumbs immediately from tables and other surfaces.
  7. Bring utensils and dishware indoors shortly after the meal.
  8. Rinse all beverage bottles and cans, and dispose of them in tightly closed garbage containers.
  9. Plan to serve food and beverages indoors, and reserve outdoor space for eating and entertaining.
  10. Remove or drain sources of standing water in your yard that could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, including birdbaths, wading pools or garden ponds.


Free in-home Pest Evaluation!

July 30th, 2014

Call The Bed Bug Professionals | Bug Busters USA

July 29th, 2014

By working with an exterminator, Nathan plans a way to spray a hotel for bedbugs without alerting any of the guests to the infestation.

Call the professionals!

There are many steps homeowners can take to reduce the likelihood of occasional invaders this Summer

July 28th, 2014

What steps can homeowners take to reduce the likelihood of summer pests inside their homes?

There are many steps homeowners can take to reduce the likelihood of occasional invaders this Summer:

  • Keep all kitchen areas clean (including floors). Kitchen appliances should be kept free of spills and crumbs. Clean shelves regularly and store foods such as cereal, flour, and dog food in resealable containers.
  • Periodically sweep and vacuum floor areas in the kitchen, under furniture, and around dining areas. Pay particular attention to pet food and water dishes.
  • Keep garbage areas clean. Garbage should be stored in sealed containers and disposed of regularly.
  • Seal cracks, crevices, and other gaps around doors and windows. Doors and windows should always be kept closed or well screened.
  • Check pipes and pipe areas around the house for leaks, cracks and gaps and seal and patch any problems if necessary. Leaky faucets should also be fixed.
  • Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces dry. If you have mold and mildew in your home or office crawlspace, it’s a symptom of an excess moisture problem.
  • Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly. Insects have also been known to come in on potted plants and in luggage.
  • 20130613_134107

The Asian tiger mosquito

July 25th, 2014

The Asian tiger mosquito is an exotic species that gets its “tiger” name from the single white stripe down the center of its head and back. This biting insect can transmit harmful diseases like West Nile virus and dengue fever.

Like other mosquito species, only females require a blood meal to produce eggs. Asian tiger mosquitoes typically feed during the daylight hours when they are most active. The males do not bite and primarily feed on plant nectar

In warm regions, Asian tiger mosquitoes are active year-round. However, they are known to overwinter in temperate climates. The females lay their eggs inside items that can hold stagnant water, such as tires, flowerpots, birdbaths and clogged drains.


The bite from a female Asian tiger mosquito can leave an itchy, red bump on the skin. But, the real threat posed by this pest is its ability to transmit numerous diseases including West Nile virus, encephalitis and dengue fever. The Asian tiger mosquito is also the primary vector for Chikungunya, a virus similar to dengue fever. Fortunately, there haven’t been any reported outbreaks of Chikungunya in the United States. Asian tiger mosquitoes are also known to transmit heartworm in pets.

Preventing Lyme Disease

July 24th, 2014

Prevention is Key!

During the summer months, it’s best to take precautions against ticks whenever outdoors, especially in areas known for tick populations.

  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, especially in wooded areas or tall grasses.
  • Wear light colored clothing, which makes it easier to spot ticks and other insects.
  • Wear a bug spray containing at least 20% DEET when outdoors, and reapply as directed on the label.
  • When hiking, stay in the center of trails, away from vegetation.
  • Take steps to keep your own yard tick-free. Keep grass cut low and remove weeds, woodpiles and debris, which can attract ticks and other pests.
  • Inspect your pets for ticks on a routine basis. Just like humans, pets can contract Lyme disease from ticks.
  • Inspect yourself and your family members carefully for ticks after being outdoors.
  • If you find a tick on yourself or a family member, remove it with a slow, steady pull so as not to break off the mouthparts and leave them in the skin. Then, wash your hands and the bite site thoroughly with soap and water. Ticks should be flushed down a toilet or wrapped in tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of tick bites, such as a telltale red bull’s eye rash around a bite. If you suspect a tick has bitten you, seek medical attention.
  • Learn the symptoms of Lyme disease and consult with your doctor immediately if you believe you have contracted it.
  • If you find a tick in your home or suspect you have ticks on your property, contact a licensed pest professional who can inspect and recommend a course of action to reduce or eliminate ticks on your property.

Educational – Before You Buy

July 23rd, 2014

Educational – Before You Buy

Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist with the NPMA, shares some crucial advice for homebuyers about wood destroying insects and the damage they can cause to homes.

Is West Nile virus something that the average American should be concerned about?

July 22nd, 2014

Is West Nile virus something that the average American should be concerned about?

West Nile virus is a common concern among Americans – and rightfully so. West Nile virus has continued to spread across the country since the first reported incidence in 1999. The worst year for the mosquito-borne disease was 2002, which saw nearly 3,000 severe cases and 284 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, experts are predicting that the outbreak in 2012 might become the deadliest ever. As of September 18, there have been 3,142 cases and 134 deaths reported to the CDC this year. Texas has remained the epicenter, accounting for forty percent of the nation’s West Nile virus cases.

Stink Bug Chemical Language Decoded By Scientists

July 21st, 2014

Stink Bug Chemical Language Decoded By Scientists

The discovery may have agricultural applications right away

The pheromones of the brown marmorated stink bug, scientifically known as Halyomorpha halys, have been decoded by scientists according to a new report. Research on the insects has found that they use their distinctive pheromones in order to attract other members of the species to various locations in order to point out areas with food and other useful resources.

The research, which was led by Ashot Khrimian, of the Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory in Beltsville, shows that adult males of the stink bug species use two different chemicals in order to lure other stink bugs to various locations. The scientists recreated the chemicals in a laboratory and used them as lures in order to prove their efficacy.

Research decodes insect language

Many insects communicate by the use of chemicals called pheromones. The Stink Bug is native to Asia, but became an invasive species in the United States in the last fifteen years. The first example of the insect found in the mainland United States was found in Pennsylvania in 2001. The insect is now known to inhabit more than 40 states, and causes millions in damage to the apple industry every year.

The researchers carried out their research by collecting airborne samples of the insect pheromone. Laboratory testing and experimentation led to the development of a method of synthesizing the chemicals which are apparently three times more effective when combined.

The research was, in part, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, appeared in a paper in the Journal of Natural Products. It involved researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology in Taipei, Taiwan as well as from the Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory. Alongside Ashot Khrimian the other authors include ARS researchers Shyam Shirali, Don Weber, Filadelfo Guzman, Tracy C. Leskey, Jeffrey Aldrich Aijun Zhang, and Karl E. Vermillion,

Stink bugs cause problems for farmers

The research may have applications right away for some farmers. Stink bugs are a known pest in agriculture and the insects have been known to eat everything from fruit and vegetables to grains. The stink bug is specifically regarded as a pest in the apple industry, and that may be one of the first places that the artificial pheromones discovered by the scientists could be used.

Right now most of the effort to control insect subversion of the food industry revolves around the use of pesticides. Those chemicals have, for many years, met resistance because of their possible contribution to human diseases. The use of insect pheromones to draw animals away from the crop, rather than killing them when they get to it, may be a more efficient way to control pests, and it’s likely better for the environment and the human food supply.

There is no information on when the synthetic pheromone might be available to be used commercially, but it may be years as the chemicals go through testing to ensure that they are safe to use in agriculture.