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Insect Awareness

When you're outdoors, there's always the possibility of a close encounter with a wasp, bee, or other insect that stings or bites. You may not always feel it when they strike, but you'll probably soon notice swelling, redness, itching, or even pain.

But some individuals have to worry about much more than these symptoms. If you're allergic to bites or stings, they can trigger hives, dizziness, stomach cramps, or nausea. In rare cases, people feel weak or have trouble breathing or swallowing. In the worst cases, this can progress to losing consciousness, or even death.

Other insects, including black flies and tiny red chiggers, inflict bites that cause serious itching, but rarely lead to serious issues.

Spider bites are generally harmless but the brown recluse spider and the black widow are an exception. Black widow spiders live in undisturbed locations and are rarely found in homes. The females will be active during the day on their irregular web, near ground level. Adult females are shiny black, have a red or yellow “hourglass” on their underside, and are about the size of a penny with their legs extended.

Brown recluse are only about the size of a quarter when their legs are extended and are typically light to medium brown, but can range in color from white to dark brown or blackish gray. They also have a white pattern that looks like a violin on their back.

Fatalities from spider bites are extremely rare. Reactions to bites vary by the amount of venom injected and the patient’s age, health, and individual sensitivity. Subjects who have been bitten who experience severe pain, trouble breathing, dizziness or nausea, should seek medical attention.

Tick bites are also a concern. Ticks are tiny bugs that live in tall grass or shrubs and often "ride" on deer, dogs, mice, or people. They don't fly or jump but can easily attach themselves to your clothes. They're so small, you may not even notice them or realize you've been bitten. But some ticks carry serious illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.

It's important to recognize the symptoms of these illnesses early (Including but not limited to: rashes, fatigue, achy, stiff, or swollen joints, headaches, dizziness, fever, or night sweats and sleep disturbances.)

Prevent tick bites by employing the following tactics, including avoiding tick-infested areas:

  • Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin

  • Wear light-colored protective clothing

  • Tuck pant legs into socks

As always, seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and treatment.


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