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ONE thing guaranteed to spoil picnic plans is the arrival of a swarm of wasps - each equipped with a venemous sting that causes a sharp pain and burning sensation.

Although often a nuisance it's good to remember that they pollinate plants and keep pest insect populations under control, so there's good reason for them to be in your garden. Leading UK insect expert, Professor James Logan, has some tips on keeping wasps at bay, and what to do if you're unlucky enough to get stung...

DON'T PANIC WHEN a wasp is heading for the food in your hand, it's natural to start swatting it away. "Don't," says Prof Logan, "as this may agitate them and they may be more likely to sting.

"Bees and wasps have little interest in us - just what we are eating or drinking. They only attack in defence. Remain calm and the insect will usually leave of its own accord eventually."

KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR DRINK THE mouth is one of the most painful places to get a sting so you should be extra vigilant with sugary drinks. Prof Logan advises: "When outside, check in your can of juice as wasps can climb inside. Being stung inside the mouth could be dangerous."

WHAT IF YOU GET A STING? PROF LOGAN says: "You should always get advice from a pharmacist or GP before taking medication. Things you can buy include antihistamine tablets and creams, pain killers such as paracetamol and antiinflammatories such as ibuprofen." A cold compress can help reduce swelling, too.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IT'S SERIOUS? UNFORTUNATELY, says Prof Logan: "A small percentage of people may have a severe reaction called anaphylaxis."

It's rare but everyone should be aware of the warning signs.

"Look for shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, speaking or breathing, swelling of the lips, mouth and throat, hives on the body, confusion and anxiety, a fast heartbeat, or collapsing.

"If this happens, it could be very serious. An Epipen (automatic injection devices containing adrenaline for allergic emergencies) should be used, if the person has one. Call an ambulance immediately and remove the sting. Lie the person down. If they stop breathing, adminsiter CPR."

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 2, 2018
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