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  • Dr Thor Conner

The Stings and Bites of Summer.

Bees usually don't go looking for trouble. If you don't bother them by poking around their nests, chances are you'll never get stung. And even if you do, most bee stings cause little pain, usually lasting from a few hours to a few days. Unless, of course, you're allergic, in which case you need emergency care. But for the vast majority of the population, a care is all you'll need.

Scrape out the stinger.

One of the best ways to remove a stinger — and avoid any additional pain — is to "scrape" it out of the skin with a credit card, a knife or a long fingernail. The biggest mistake people make is trying to pull the stinger out. In doing that, you squeeze the tiny venom sac attached to the stinger and accidentally release more venom into your skin. If you scrape the stinger out, this sac goes undisturbed.

Honeybees, which have a fuzzy, golden brown body, sting only once and then die. That's because their stingers remain embedded in your skin. Wasps and hornets can sting repeatedly because they have smooth stingers that can exit pierced skin easily. Don't smash them, because when destroyed, their venom sac releases a chemical that incites other yellow jackets to attack


Rather than reaching for manufactured insect repellents that use powerful chemicals to keep bugs at bay, try these tips to naturally prevent bug bites.

Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing when outside. You'll lower your chances of popping up on a mosquito's radar, as these bugs are attracted to dark colors and easily bite through tight clothing. Also avoid wearing bright or floral patterns, as resembling a scrumptious flower can make you attractive to bees and wasps.

Even if you don't have a pool or pond, you still need to eliminate standing water around your home, which is an invitation for mosquitoes to lay eggs near your abode. Drill holes in the bottoms of things like trash bins to drain water that may collect in them. Change birdbaths and pets' water dishes at least once a week and as often as possible in the summertime to wipe out any breeding grounds mosquitoes may have created. Check for other standing water sources, such as gutters, flower pots and children's toys.

Rosemary, basil, catnip, lemon balm and rose geraniums are a few of the plants you can grow that have insect-repelling qualities. Lemon balm and catnip are especially good for warding off mosquitoes: Researchers at Iowa State University found the essential oil in catnip to be about 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, the widely used synthetic repellent. Simply crush the leaves of any of these plants to release their scents and rub them on your exposed skin.

Witch hazel is a mild astringent that takes the sting out of bug bites, soothes hives, and treats sun-damaged skin. It even helps treat and prevent summer acne breakouts. This inexpensive skin remedy contains tannins to treat inflammation and balance your skin’s delicate pH balance. For quick relief, pour some witch hazel onto a clean cotton ball and smooth over irritated, sunburned, or bug-bitten skin.

World Tree Natural Medicine

Some Specific Remedies:

» bee sting:

  • apply paste of baking soda to skin surrounding area of sting

  • rub raw sliced onion to area of sting

  • apply meat tenderizer or papain mixed with water on cotton ball directly to sting

  • apply apple cider vinegar directly into sting

» mosquito bites:

  • dip a piece of cotton in apple cider vinegar and apply to bite and hold with bandage

  • mix together a dab of butter and a pinch of salt and rub into mosquito bite

  • dampen area of bite with water and apply Vitamin C crystals directly and let dry

  • apply peppermint essential oil undiluted to area of bite

» mosquito repellent:

  • Apply garlic powder or squeezed raw garlic juice to body before going into infested area

  • Hang a bouquet of dried tomato plant leaves to prevent mosquitoes, spiders, and flies

  • bee sting:

  • A simple paste of baking powder is usually effective

  • Plantain: chewed leaf on wasp or bee sting


  • Echinacea angustifolia: bites of poisonous animals, i.e. tarantula, scorpion;

  • Grindelia robusta: insect bites

  • Hypericum perforatum: topically: dilute tincture or oil

  • Mentha piperita: topically for itching

  • Rub aloe vera leaves on stings, bites to ease burning.

  • Get relief from itches by applying a few drops of lavender oil to the affected area as needed.

  • Cut an onion in half and apply it right to the sting. After a few moments of slightly sharper stinging, the pain will diminish almost immediately


  • Apis mellifica: bee stings causing edema

  • Arnica montana: wasp bites, use topically

  • Euphorbia prostata: poisonous insects and snakes, esp. rattle snakes

  • Golondrina: antidote to snake poisoning; is prophylactic

  • Hypericum: bugs

  • Lachesis: leeches, gangrenous; specific for dog bites

  • Ledum: insects, rats and scorpions; use tincture externally; immediate relief for mosquito bites, bee stings etc.; bites of angry animals

Mother Earth News bug bite remedy. Ingredients:

  • • 2-teaspoons total of any of the following essential oils: basil, cedarwood, citronella, juniper, lemon, myrrh, pine, rose geranium or rosemary (available at health food stores).

  • • 1-cup 190-proof grain alcohol (available at liquor stores).

  • Method:

  • • Place ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously.

  • • Transfer to a small bottle for storage.

  • • To use, rub a small amount on exposed skin, though test first to make sure skin doesn’t react negatively.

The key to using any plant-based repellent is to watch how it's working. Immediately after application, mosquitoes will not light on your skin; as the effectiveness wanes, they will light but not bite. That's your signal to go inside or to apply more repellent because the third stage is near — when the mosquitoes light and bite.

Lawn Weed Plantain Pick a few leaves from the common lawn weed plantain, wash them, mash them, and apply as a poultice to the affected skin. Plantain contains a chemical (called allantoin) that is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. Great for bites, stings and poison ivy.