Upstate sees rise in bug bites, stings - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate sees rise in bug bites, stings

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

For many, a good bug is a dead bug, especially when it's a pest.  

And for Joshua Wicker, bugs are his business.  A wildlife removal specialist with Gregory Pest Control in Greenville, Wicker said the wildlife he's removing these days are insects - and the workload is just getting bigger and bigger.

"A lot of honey bees, a lot of yellow jackets, paper wasps, Japanese hornets. You name it, we're seeing it right now," Wicker said.

FOX Carolina followed along with Wicker as he made extermination calls Friday.  At one home in Travelers Rest, we came across a yellow jacket nest with around 300 bees inside.  The job required Wicker to suit up and spray - a common theme for him so far this Summer.

"Right now, three to one on the stinging insect calls versus wildlife," he said.

Exterminators across the area said they're seeing about a 30 percent increase in the bug-killing calls for stinging and biting insects.  The Greenville Hospital System said they've seen a similar increase - calls into the emergency rooms for insect bites and stings are up some 25 percent, and that's not counting the emergency rooms outside the hospital system.

"We've had a couple of cases where kids have had several stinging insect bites at one time, and there's always a concern when that happens that there could be an allergic reaction," said pediatrician Dr. Susan Shelley.

The reason for so many insects?  The mild winter.  What the area is currently seeing is more than a month ahead of schedule, according to exterminators.  And it's for everything from bees, to spiders and mosquitoes.

"Yellow jackets and things usually pick up closer to the fall, and as you can see, we're getting aerial, we're getting subterranean, we're getting all of them," Wicker said.

The insects might be pests, but they also present a danger to children, who may have an allergy to certain bites or stings and not even know it.

"Most kids will have a mild localized reaction, swelling at the site," Shelley said.  "Most like any break in the skin, there is risk of infection, so if you start seeing any drainage, tenderness, or worsening redness, it could be something other than a bug bite."

The best advice?  Just watch out.

"If you see a nest, take care of it as soon as you see it, don't let it turn into something like what we just saw, cause it doesn't take that long," Wicker said.

And doctors said insect repellents can only do so much - because, inside or outside, bug bites and stings can happen anywhere.

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