Avoid & Treat Insect Stings Make an Appointment Ask a Question Search Conditions Picnickers, hikers, gardeners and outdoor sportsmen have to contend with stings by yellow jackets, yellow hornets, wasps and honeybees and ants. Insect bites and stings can cause reactions ranging from minor irritation, to serious allergic or toxic reactions. More than 1 million Americans report allergic reactions to insect stings; about 50 people each year die from the stings. Protect Against Mosquito, Tick and Flea Bites Most Common Stinging Insects Honeybees Wasps and hornets Yellow jackets Fire Ants Harvester Ants Tips to Help Take the Sting Out of Summer What Attracts Insects How to Protect Yourself Clothing Dark clothing, flowery designs Wear white or light-colored clothing. Wear long sleeves, pants, shoes and gloves when outdoors. Deodorant Sweat Scented products Rinse off perspiration. Use unscented products. Food Fruit, sweet drinks, juices Cover food and drinks. Fragrances Strong smelling perfume, cologne, hair products and lotions Use fragrance free products. Wear repellant. Garbage Uncovered trash cans, open bags of trash Cover trash cans tightly and secure trash bags with ties. Treat Insect Stings Small local reaction: Use a cold compress with ice and take pain medicine. Large local reaction: Elevate the sting and use a cold compress with ice, take pain medicine and antihistamine for itchiness. Severe reaction: If you have swelling in the face, throat or tongue, difficulty breathing, dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea or diarrhea, or itchy hives in large areas, take antihistamine and call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. More Resources What's Buzzing? How to Identify Insect Sting Allergy Review How to Use an Epipen Protect Against Mosquito, Tick and Flea Bites This information has been approved by Kanao Otsu, MD, MPH, and Carah B. Santos, MD (May 2017).