Skip Navigation

Bites & Stings

Bites and stings usually occur during the warmer months. The warm weather sends most of us outdoors and increases our exposure to bees, spiders, caterpillars, and snakes. These animals use poisonous venom as a means to capture prey or defending of themselves or nesting areas. Take time to practice prevention and learn first aid. The West Virginia Poison Center is available 24 hours a day to help you if a bite or sting occurs.

Bees & Wasps

A little about Bees and Wasps

Bees and wasps usually will avoid contact with humans unless threatened. When a bee or wasp flies close, don't swat it away. A slow, quiet retreat out of harm's way is the best move. Avoid wearing bright colors, clothing with flower patterns, and heavily scented perfumes and hair sprays. Some plants such as clover and fruit trees, attract bees and wasps. Keep away.


A little about Spiders

There is only one spider in West Virginia that is harmful to humans. This spider is the black widow. Bites from all of the other spiders can result in mild redness and pain. Recommended treatment for these bites are: clean the area with soap and water then apply a cool compress over the affected area. Call the poison center or your family physician if symptoms are more severe or if you suspect you have been bitten by the black widow.

Prevent spider bites by keeping attics, garages, and basements clean. Dispose of old storage boxes. Carefully shake out stored clothing or shoes before putting them on. Avoid reaching into dark closets, boxes or other places where spiders may live without looking first. As a rule, a bite from a spider means that the victim interfered with a nesting area.


A little about caterpillars

Caterpillar is the common name for the larva of a moth or butterfly. Some caterpillars have smooth skin and others are hairy depending on the species. Most caterpillars, moths, and butterflies are not irritative; however all caterpillars are equipped with various protective devices. Some have sharp spines connected with glands that secrete an irritating substance. Others have irritating bristles, and the swallowtail butterfly larva emits a repellent odor when disturbed. The most common effects of a sting by a caterpillar are pain, redness, and swelling.


A little about snakes

The most hated creatures in West Virginia are probably snakes. Yet of the 22 types (20- species and 2 subspecies) of snakes in this state only two are poisonous; the northern copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. All other snakes are harmless, but if you are bitten by any snake be sure that your tetanus shot is up to date. If you do not want snakes around your house here are some suggestions:

  1. Keep lawns and fields closely mowed. This will make it less attractive to snakes.
  2. Eliminate shelter for snakes. Snakes hide under boards, flat rocks, and trash piles.
  3. Snakes eat rodents, so to keep snakes away make all outbuildings rodent proof.