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Wasps and bees pose a threat to picknickers without precautions

(Radio Iowa) – A couple of types of bugs that fly or creep are becoming particularly pesky to Iowans at this time of year. Stings or bites could merit a call to the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center or even a trip to the emergency room. Registered nurse Joan McVoy says there are plenty of those yellow-jacket wasps and bees buzzing around now that fall has arrived.

“They are running out of food so they’re scavenging and trying to get around where we are,” McVoy says. “They’re coming to our food if we’re eating outside because they’re attracted to it at this time of year and there’s so many of them and they will be until we get our first freeze.”

Iowans who are picnicking or tailgating need to remember a few basic precautions to avoid getting stung by a wasp or bee. “Don’t make any quick movements, don’t swat at them, even though that’s our first thought,” McVoy says. “If you’re eating outside, make sure (the food is) covered, your soft drinks are covered so it’s not just a can sitting open. Lots of times, people will swallow something out of a can and a bee will be in there and they’ll get stung in the mouth. That’s a trip to the emergency room.”

She says bees and wasps may be attracted to perfumes, aftershave, scented soaps and some shampoos. They’ll often swarm around trash cans, so make sure all containers have a tight-fitting lid. As the weather gets cooler, many pests try to move inside our homes, including spiders.

While most spiders in Iowa are not poisonous, there are a few kinds that pose a threat — including the brown recluse and the black widow. “The brown recluse is a very shy, little brown spider that doesn’t look very scary at all,” McVoy says. “If it bites you, the venom can cause a breakdown of the skin and can cause a sore that just doesn’t heal. The black widow isn’t so much a skin reaction but the venom can give you a severe muscle aches and pain.”

If you’ve been bitten by a spider, the experts on call at the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center may be able to help. They’re on call 24-seven at the Sioux City-based facility — at 800-222-1222.