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You wouldn't think that bees and wasps could survive in the bitter cold temperatures of a New England winter, but they can. Somehow, they manage to come back every year to plague us once again. And when they do, they present a stinging hazard for us, our children, and our pets. But how dangerous is this stinging hazard? Well, that depends on which stinging pest we're talking about, where it stings, and whether or not that sting results in an allergic reaction.
 
One right of passage for a child is being stung by dozens of yellowjackets. If it hasn't happened to you, you probably know someone that it has happened to. You may have even been there when it happened! If you have, you know it’s not fun. But we hope that your experience is one that you look back on with humor and not one that ended in tragedy because unfortunately, the sad truth is that it sometimes can.
 
Many people have an allergy to the venom of stinging insects, ranging from mild to serious. Allergic reactions to the venom from these stings can include anything from localized swelling to anaphylactic shock that results in death. For these people, stinging pests are a serious threat. If you have an allergy to bee and wasp stings, you probably have an epi-pen somewhere close by when spending time out in nature, especially in the summer and fall.
 
Some dogs and cats can be allergic to the stings of bees and wasps as well and their reactions are similar to that of humans. And while it may be somewhat comical when a cat or dog's nose, lips, cheeks, and jaw begin to swell up, it is no laughing matter as it can be quite painful for your pets and can even be fatal.
 
One family's story of a weekend outing with their children and their new puppy is a heart-wrenching example of how quickly it can happen. Their little dog was romping around excitedly when he suddenly began to stagger and froth at the mouth. In a panic, they got into the car and sped him to the emergency clinic. Within minutes of arriving at the clinic, the puppy passed away. The vet asked the family if an autopsy could be performed to determine what had happened and the family agreed. During the autopsy, three wasps were found in the puppy's stomach.
 
This is all too common for dogs, especially young dogs who don't know the difference between a wasp and a fly. They just chomp them right out of the air without knowing the dangers. This can lead to stings on the lips, tongue, mouth, and throat. And wasps don't lose their stingers when they sting, meaning they can sting multiple times, all the way down to the stomach resulting in extreme pain, the symptoms mentioned above, and even death. This is definitely a sad truth, but one that you need to be aware of, especially if you have pets.
 
In our New England service area, the stinging pests we see most commonly are honey bees, yellowjackets, and paper wasps. While honey bees lose their stingers when they sting and are not inclined to sting people, they can still be a threat as they often establish their hives inside the wall voids of a home or in sheds or outbuildings. This brings them into close contact with people and their pets.
 
The greater threat is from wasps, particularly yellowjackets. While paper wasps can become aggressive when their feel their nests are being threatened, these nests are usually located high in trees or attached underneath rooflines, out of reach of humans. However, we can open an upstairs window next to a paper wasp nest and unwittingly invite dozens of angry wasps into our home. 
 
Yellowjackets are a unique threat because they don't just establish aerial nests like many other stinging insect species. They also create nests in the ground which makes it possible for an unsuspecting child, pet, or adult to walk by and set those yellowjackets off. Sometimes, you don't even have to walk by their nest to set off these easily-angered wasps. The vibration from a lawnmower can be enough to coax an attack resulting in several stings and sometimes even a trip to the emergency room, depending on the individual.
 
In the fall, wasp populations are at their highest. That means there is more chance of an unwanted encounter with these pests. It is also a time of year when wasps are aggressively looking for food in order to feed the newly developed female reproductives and fatten them up for winter survival. This search for food will draw them to any outside gathering where food and drinks are involved, which is most outdoor gatherings. Protect your outdoor activities as well as yourself, your family, and your pets by having a professional reduce or eliminate the stinging insect populations in your yard!
 
If you need assistance with bee and wasp eradication and control in Massachusetts or Connecticut, let the professionals at American Pest Solutions give you a hand! We can control pests "before" they become a problem. Schedule a free evaluation to learn more about the pests on your property and how they can be controlled!

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