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Significantly increased number of wasps: How can you protect yourself from the insects?
Due to the relatively warm weather conditions in spring, the wasps were able to develop optimally, so that around 30 to 50 percent more wasps are on the move, the nature conservation association (NABU) explained at the beginning of August. The wasps can be stopped by natural means.
As there are significantly more black and yellow insects on the move this year, the number of wasp stings has increased significantly, explained NABU biologist Julian Heiermann. However, there is no reason to panic, because wasp stings are painful for most people, but otherwise relatively harmless, according to the expert. In allergy sufferers, however, a wasp sting can lead to considerable health problems and even life-threatening anaphylactic shocks, the environmental association warns.
Allergy to wasp stings Around three to five percent of the population suffer from an allergy to wasp venom in Germany, according to the German Nature Conservation Association. After a stab, those affected have different physical reactions such as massive swelling, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and possibly a loss of consciousness. People who are known to have allergies will therefore receive first aid equipment and medicines from their doctor, which they should always carry with them, said NABU Hesse state chairman Gerhard Eppler at the beginning of August. As there are a lot of wasps, hornets and bees on the way this year, allergy sufferers should be particularly careful at the moment. Panic reactions when the black-and-yellow skin-winged wings appear, however, are out of place because they significantly increase the risk of a bite, explains NABU on its website. At the same time, the Naturschutzbund also promotes a better understanding of the insects' way of life, since "better assessment of known situations could make hornets and humans peaceful neighbors".
Whether at the coffee table, eating ice cream or grilling, the wasps seem to be everywhere right now. As the NABU biologist Julian Heiermann emphasizes, "we don't have a record year, but there are actually more of these insects than usual." Because the starting conditions were particularly favorable this spring. "The winter was over early, the spring dry and warm," so that "the wasp season also started early," explained Heiermann. However, according to the expert, only two types of wasp appear relatively frequently at the dining table because they love desserts, meat and sausages - the German wasp and the common wasp. These species are attracted by the smell of food and beverages and are essentially responsible for the bad reputation of the black and yellow hymenoptera. Because as soon as people try to drive the wasps off the dining table, the anger is inevitable, explained the state chairman of NABU Hessen, Gerhard Eppler. It is therefore advisable to cover the food and drinks when eating outdoors so that the wasps are not attracted to them at all. After eating, the expert advises to remove the leftovers immediately and to wipe children's mouths to reduce the risk of a wasp sting. In addition, sweet drinks should generally be drunk outdoors through a straw, according to Julian Heiermann.
Distracting wasps with fragrances In order to have peace of mind against the black and yellow insects at the dining table, according to the NABU, diversion feeding is also an option, as the students Maike Sieler and Henrike Weidemann examined in an experiment for "Jugend forscht". The wasps are distracted by deliberately placed bait (for example, overripe grapes) five to ten meters away from the dining table and do not appear as a nuisance during the meal. In addition to the grapes mentioned, diluted honey is also suitable as bait. With undiluted jam or pure honey, however, caution is advised according to NABU, as this makes the wasps more aggressive. Overall, however, distraction feeding offers a relatively simple and safe method to avoid the occurrence of insects at the dining table. However, if a wasp can be seen, "you should never strike wildly, but gently push the wasps away," emphasized Gerhard Eppler. Because wasps sting as soon as they feel threatened and this can already be the case with hectic, fast movements, added Julian Heiermann. The experts also advise against blowing the animals away, since the "carbon dioxide contained in the breath in the wasp nest is an alarm signal" and could result in an attack.
Cool wasp stings and rub in with an onion If a wasp stings despite all precautionary measures, the experts recommend cooling the area immediately with ice or with half an onion. In addition to the cooling effect, the onion also has a disinfectant effect due to the essential oils it contains, the NABU biologists explained. Onions are considered a natural antibiotic in natural medicine. Usually no more serious health impairments are expected. However, wasp stings in the mouth can also pose a significant threat to non-allergy sufferers, because there is a risk that the respiratory tract swell and there is a risk of suffocation. If breathlessness, dizziness or a sweat appear after a normal wasp sting, those affected should alert a doctor as soon as possible, as these can be signs of an allergic shock, warn the NABU experts. However, the NABU biologists could not find a difference in the effect of the wasp venom compared to previous years, which would speak for an increased risk of allergic reactions. The wasps are neither more aggressive this year, nor is their poison worse, according to Julian Heiermann. According to the NABU biologist, the increased wasp stings are simply due to a higher number of animals per se. The biologist emphasized that more allergy sufferers are automatically affected by a bite. Martin Ebbecke from the Poison Information Center North comes to a similar assessment. According to Ebbecke, the poison information service hotline is currently receiving significantly more inquiries about how to deal with wasp stings than in the previous year. According to the toxicologist, the reason for this is obvious: "There are simply more of them."
Wasps have a natural mission Before people complain about the supposedly annoying wasps, they should also be aware of the advantages of black and yellow insects. Because as an insect hunter, wasps are excellent pest controlers and are invaluable for agriculture. The black and yellow hymenoptera - as long as they are not fed at the dining table - hunt for caterpillars, flies and other small insects, which help to regulate their populations. In addition, the wasps are generally less visible in the rainy weather that is currently shaping summer in northern Germany. Because, similar to humans, fewer wasps are on the move, "when it is dark and cool," said NABU biologist Heiermann. With autumn, the life cycle of most wasps comes to an end anyway. The workers and males die and only the queen ensures the survival of the next generation of wasps. (fp)
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