It is hard to avoid spending time outdoors once the summer season arrives, especially when the warm summer temperatures follow several months of cold climate. Although the summer warmth is a welcome change for northeasterners, there exists certain airborne hazards that everyone should be aware of before setting foot outdoors These hazards include disease-spreading mosquitoes, wasps and bees. There exists 51 mosquito species within Massachusetts, but only a few are capable of spreading disease.

Residents of the state can contract the West Nile virus or eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) from mosquitoes, and they are most active shortly before dusk and during the nighttime hours in Massachusetts. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide that humans exhale, and the insects can sense a human’s breath from as far as 50 feet away. Obviously, there is no way to prevent mosquitoes from gravitating toward a human’s breath, but avoiding strong fragrances and dark clothing will go a long way to minimize mosquito bites.

Luckily for Massachusetts residents, west Nile cases are relatively infrequent in the state, and EEE cases are nearly unheard of in the northeast, but wasps and bees sting residents of the region often, and many people, both knowingly and unknowingly, have an allergy to insect venom. For these individuals, bee and/or wasp stings can be potentially fatal, but there are several ways in which residents can prevent stinging insects from swarming near their homes.

Both bees and wasps are strongly attracted to scented cosmetics like hairsprays, lotions perfumes and cologne. It is also a good idea to wear clothing that does not call attention to these potentially dangerous insects. For example, wearing bright-colored or checkered clothing attracts bees and wasps, and stings often occur on bare or sandaled feet, so keeping feet fully covered is a wise idea while outdoors. However, bees and wasps usually swarm onto properties where flowers, food, and collected garbage waste can be found. Removing all objects that bees and wasps can use to make nests, such as bird feeders, and especially hummingbird feeders that dispense sweet liquid can prevent swarms from occurring near homes, but nests are often spotted on properties, especially beneath the eaves of a house. If a nest is found, a pest controller should be contacted in order to ensure the safe removal of all stinging insects.

Have you ever sustained both a bee and a wasp sting? If so, which did you find to be more painful?