While summer may be a few months off, we are all looking forward to fun days in the sun. For most of us, that will mean fishing, BBQs, camping, and relaxing by the water. All of these outdoor activities, though, leave us vulnerable to bites and stings.
While most bug bites and stings are a mild to moderate annoyance, it is important to know what they are and how to treat them. Every geographic area comes with its insects and pests. Here’s what you need to know about the bites and stings common to the southern Louisiana area for your next trip outdoors:
Sometimes jokingly referred to as the state bird, Louisiana's climate makes it the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Although they are considered by most a minor annoyance, mosquitos can carry harmful diseases, such as malaria and West Nile Virus.
Wear protective clothing and use bug spray on both clothing and exposed parts of the body. If you will be spending the night in nature, a net can help keep you from being bit while you sleep.
While the adults are relatively harmless, young chiggers can give a nasty bite. They are small and prefer shady and moist areas. It may take some time to realize you have been bitten because it is painless, but they end up causing hives or bumps that can last for a week.
They mostly attack the ankles, waist and the folds of the elbow and knees, so wear socks and long protective clothing to avoid being bitten. Also, bug spray can keep them away. If you are bitten, it’s important not to scratch to prevent infection.
Ticks attach themselves to their host and swell as they suck up blood. They come with a high risk of disease, especially Lyme, so it is crucial to have a tick bite checked out by a doctor.
Carefully remove the tick as it is easy to leave the mouthparts under the skin, which will cause itching and may need to be removed surgically. Use tweezers or a tick remover device to make sure it is free.
Most spiders are harmless to humans because their fangs are not strong enough to pierce the skin. However, black widows, brown recluses, and Hobo spiders are serious and should be treated by a medical professional. Black widows and brown recluses will often cause an open sore and pain. Hobo spiders’ venom, on the other hand, causes slow-healing wounds.
Prevent spider bites by keeping living areas free of webs, using gloves when handling firewood, and give any gloves or shoes a shake if they have not been used in a while. If you’ve been bitten, clean with soap and apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound. Also, keep bites elevated and apply a cold compress.
While bee stings are usually harmless, they are also fairly painful. You are not likely to mistake whether or not you have been stung.
Sometimes the stingers stay on the skin, and it is important to remove it right away. Do not squeeze the stinger as it may release more venom and cause more pain. Instead, scrape off with a fingernail, corner of a credit card, or some gauze. Apply hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to the wound.
Wasp stings are more harmful than a bee. Because their stinger is not barbed, wasps can continue to sting over and over again, causing a far more painful reaction.
Their treatment is similar to a bee sting. Oral histamines and pain relievers can be taken to ease any discomfort.
While black ants are harmless, fire ants can cause intense pain when they sting. Their sting can also produce red swollen spots that are sometimes filled with pus. After the initial pain, the area around the bite can burn and cause itching.
Avoid scratching because it can lead to an infection. Instead, use oatmeal baths, antihistamines, and cold compresses to manage any discomfort. Avoid being bitten by staying away from any anthills and wearing closed-toed shoes with socks.
With the proper precautions, you can avoid much of the discomfort of the troublesome insects in southern Louisiana. Stay safe while having fun by following our tips!
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