No-see-ums are pests that are very small flies with bladelike mouthparts that can make a painful wound. This group of pests can make welts and lesions that can last a while.
Today, I am going to share information on stinging and biting pests. I will be using information from a UGA publication that was revised by UGA Entomologist, Elmer Gray.
What happens when you get a sting or an insect bite? When you are bitten by insects, mites and ticks, they inject saliva into the wound. This saliva is what causes itching, redness and even the swelling. Saliva is injected to help digest tissue and to help in the feeding process. Some pests will also inject venom, which can be very painful.
Years ago, I remember getting into a European Hornet nest in some old hay. The hornets were very aggressive and the pain from the multiple stings was the worst I have ever experienced.
In general, a single sting will cause pain, swelling and even some stiffness if the sting was in a joint, according to Gray. These results may last a few minutes or days.
For others, a sting may be worst with swelling over an entire arm or legs. This can lead to a hospital visit. Some folks can have a third reaction called anaphylactic shock. This shock can be explained as the immune system going wrong, and within minutes you can have different levels of reactions. Some will experience nausea and constriction in the chest, some people can have difficulty breathing and swallowing, you can have a drop in blood pressure, some individuals will have blue skin color due to lack of oxygen and in extreme cases, a person can go unconscious and even die due to anaphylactic shock.
The rest of the article is going to deal with some of the stinging and biting pests we have in our area and control measures if needed. The cicada killers have an intimidating name, but normally not aggressive. They are solitary insects and are considered non-aggressive. They can sting if provoked or held or trapped to your exposed skin. They are up to 1.5 inches long and make nests in the ground. They hunt cicadas and will put the obtained cicadas in their nests for their larvae.
Normally control is not necessary. Over the years, my scorpion calls normally come from folks that have built a new home in an area with an existing scorpion population. I remember my oldest sister, Allison, getting stung by a scorpion in our new home as kids. This can be a painful sting. Scorpions can be killed with an insecticide labeled for them, but it is best to try to eliminate their breeding areas to be more long term effective, according to Gray.
Another normal call that I receive at the office is on yellow jacket control. These pests will make nests in the ground, hollow trees, wall voids and attics to name a few. Their nests can have thousands of adults in the membership. They can be very aggressive in protecting their nest. The best time to try to control it is in the evening when the yellow jackets are at rest. The easiest product to use is a jet aerosol for wasps, hornets and yellow jackets that will spray about 20-25 feet away. You will need to spray at the nest opening. I tell clients to make sure as much of your skin is covered as possible to lessen chances of stings. Have yourself an escape plan for attacking yellow jackets. For decades some folks say they use gasoline to treat nests in the ground. This is a major no-no. You may kill the yellow jackets, but you also can contaminate groundwater and also sterilize the ground where you pour the gasoline.
Finally, I was just able to skim the surface of stinging and biting pests. Just remember that these pests may not only be annoying to some folks, but can be life threatening to others. Make sure if you go the insecticide route that you are using a product that is labeled for that particular pest. Also, make sure you are using that product in the manner it states on the label. For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.