If you run an organization that holds activities outdoors, such as a camp or school, chances are your people will encounter bugs. While some insects and bugs are harmless, others can cause significant pain, injury or sickness. Church Mutual has compiled a list of bugs you should watch out for, and steps you can take to avoid them.
- Ticks – These tiny, eight-legged bugs have flat, oval bodies that swell when they eat. They can transmit Lyme disease, but you may not even know a tick bit you until you start experiencing symptoms. Lyme disease can cause a rash and give you flu-like symptoms. Instruct your campers and students to check their bodies for ticks after they spend time in a woodsy or heavily vegetated area.
- Kissing bugs – Kissing bug bites look like mosquito bites, but they typically make several bites in a cluster. If you are sensitive to the bug’s saliva, you may have a reaction to the bite. Usually, it is just itching and swelling, but sometimes the bite can cause an allergic reaction.
- Wasps – While they may look like bees, wasps are more aggressive than their fellow yellow-and-white-striped insects. While bees can only sting once before they die, wasps can sting the same person repeatedly. Most wasps have thinner hair and a longer body than bees, and they are less yellow. Wasps are also more likely than bees to follow you around and seem aggressive.
- Red fire ants – These insects have six legs and are a reddish-brown color. They inflict painful stings, which could cause an allergic reaction in some people. To avoid them, stay away from their mound nests, which are often near playgrounds, picnic tables and other outdoor structures.
How to keep bugs away
Instruct your campers, students, staff and volunteers to follow these precautions:
- Avoid perfumes and scented soap. Sweet smells can attract bugs.
- Dress appropriately in forested areas. Use insect repellant and wear long sleeves and pants, if possible. Any exposed skin is an opportunity for a bug to bite you.
- Avoid wearing bright clothing. Bright, flowery prints attract bugs such as bees and hornets.
- Stay away from stagnant water, such as swampy areas. Insects like to congregate around bodies of water.
- Know the signs of an allergic reaction to a bite. Such reaction could include rash, extreme itchiness, swelling of the face and other body parts, difficulty breathing, vomiting or lightheadedness.
- Treat insect bites right away. For bites that are red or raised, you can try applying an ice pack for 10-15 minutes several times a day and taking Benadryl.
For more outdoor safety tips, visit Church Mutual’s Safety Resources for Camps and Conference Centers.