How to Avoid Getting Stung While Hiking and Camping


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Hiking and camping are great ways to spend some time outdoors, but when you’re in the great outdoors, you do have a few things to worry about — like bees, wasps and other things that sting. If you’re heading out into the wild, you’ll probably want to know how to avoid getting stung. Here are four tips.

Dress Appropriately

Bees and wasps aren’t looking for you — they’re looking for flowers to collect nectar from and pollinate. So, don’t look like a flower. When you’re dressing for your trip, avoid things that attract bees and other pollinators, like dark colors or shiny jewelry.

If you need to use lotion or sunscreen, choose unscented options. Even artificial floral scents can be enough to attract bees and wasps, increasing your chances of getting stung.

Know Your Bees and Wasps

There is more than one type of bees and wasps, and some are more dangerous than others. Here are the main ones you should be familiar with:

  • Honeybees: Honeybees are the ones you see flitting around in your flowers. They live in large colonies, and their honey might sweeten your morning tea. They don’t sting unless threatened — if they do, their stingers rip from their bodies, and they die soon afterward.
  • Bumblebees and Carpenter Bees: Bumblebees and carpenter bees are big and fluffy and might bump into you while you’re hiking, but they’re not dangerous unless they feel threatened. They can sting, but they won’t unless you mess with them.
  • Wasps: Wasps are a bit trickier. They’re more aggressive than bees, so encountering them on your trip has a higher chance of resulting in a sting. You’ve probably seen paper wasps and mud dauber wasps around your house. The former builds an umbrella-shaped nest of a paper-like material, while the latter will build nests from mud.
  • Hornets and Yellow Jackets: Hornets and yellow jackets are more aggressive and can be very dangerous if you stumble into their nests. Avoid these at all costs. If you see a hornet or yellow jacket, pick a different path.

This is a basic definition of these insects — you may also encounter some unique bees or wasps that are native to your area depending on where you’re hiking, so make sure to do your research before you head out.

Skip the Music

If you’re hiking alone, you’re probably used to listening to music while you hike, but this could be dangerous. If you have headphones in, you won’t be able to hear the buzzing of bees or wasps if you get too close to their nests. Bees, especially, will try to warn you away from their nests rather than stinging you by buzzing loudly or bumping into you as you get too close to their home.

Run Away!

If you run into a beehive or a wasp’s nest, the best thing you can do is run.  If you stay put, they will continue to sting you. Even if you’re not allergic to bee stings, an attack from enough of them can be fatal.

Most bees will give up the chase after a quarter-mile to a half-mile. While you might get a few stings, you won’t get enough to be seriously harmful.

Don’t jump into the pool or another water source, though. You might get rid of the ones on your skin, but the rest of them will wait until you surface and start stinging you again.

Keep in mind that when you’re hiking, you’re in the bee’s neighborhood. You wouldn’t like it if someone stumbled into your home, so make an effort to avoid stumbling into their house while you’re hiking.  They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.

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