how to spot the insects and treat the stings

In the wake of the hornet attack on a group of cyclists in the Loire this weekend that left two men in intensive care with dozens of stings, we look at how to spot the bugs and what to do if they get stung.

READ ALSO: Two cyclists in France were each stung 50 times in a hornet attack

Both have been released from intensive care since the attack on Sunday (21 August).

One of them, Jacky Belot, has said his backpack and helmet saved him from getting stung more than 30 more times, adding: “I fell off my bike and got back up quickly through my survival instincts to do it to cycle out again The wood.

“I collapsed there on the way, I don’t remember exactly.” He fell into a coma but was finally able to go home on Monday evening (August 22).

He said the other cyclist, who was admitted to intensive care, suffered 53 stitches but “reacted better than me”.

“Hornet stings are common, but this species [of attack] is very rare and very surprising, Lieutenant Rémi Perret of the Loire Fire and Rescue Service told BFMTV.

“It’s a bit difficult to explain what happened,” he said, adding that the swarm of insects was in a dead tree stump two meters from the path used by the cyclists.

Three ambulances, a fire and rescue team, a doctor and an emergency response team were dispatched to the scene after the attack, and the hornet’s nest was destroyed.

Read more: “The hornet attack on cyclists in central France was no accident”

How do I recognize a hornet?

Both European and Asian hornets live in France, and this weekend’s attack was carried out by a swarm of the former.

European hornets can first be distinguished by their size. While worker wasps typically measure between 11-14mm, European worker hornets are 18-35mm, which is also significantly larger than a bumblebee.

Wasps have a clear yellow and black pattern, but these hornets have a more brownish thorax, making their yellow stripes appear duller.

European hornets also have a red patch on their backs in the shape of a “V”. They can be found in hedges, tree stumps, attics, and sometimes in window shutters.

In contrast, the Asian hornets, which are also larger at 17 to 32 mm, have a black body and only a little yellow on the extremities.

They also have an orange band across the bottom of their abdomen.

Asian hornets often nest underground.

How do I avoid getting stung?

Christophe Prudhomme of the Association des médecins urgistes said that if you notice a lot of hornets flying around your house or vacation rental, you might look carefully for the nest.

This can be in the roof, between the roller shutter and the window, or in an outbuilding.

Once you spot it, don’t approach it, instead contact a pest control specialist. Fire and rescue services will not come out to destroy a hornet’s nest.

Hornets can also approach you while you’re eating outside, but there are several products that can help deter them. These include balms or sprays containing citronella or eucalyptus, which you can usually buy at the pharmacy.

If you do not have protection against wasps or hornets and a hornet flies to your table, do not chase it away, but calmly walk away.

Hornets should only sting when they feel threatened by something, so slow, gentle movements away from the insect should help deter an attack.

What happens if I get stung?

Although hornets are significantly larger than wasps, their sting is not necessarily more dangerous.

It penetrates deeper into the skin and usually feels more painful, but after-effects should be limited to redness, swelling, and tenderness.

However, people allergic to wasps or hornets need to carry a dose of adrenaline in case they get stung.

They also need to let their close circle know about their allergy so they can find and use the adrenaline if needed.

Even if you are not allergic to wasps or hornets, being stung in the mouth or throat can be dangerous. In this case you should call emergency services at 15 or 18 as you could choke on the swelling.

Read more: French emergency services: why it’s harder to reach number 15 now

What should I do if I get stung somewhere else on my body?

Unless you are allergic to wasps or hornets and you were not stung around your mouth or throat, the sting should go away without medical intervention.

The first thing you should do is move away from the area so as not to further provoke the hornet(s) and cause more stings. Hornets can smell people from quite a distance, so you may need to go quite a distance.

If you’re near a pond or lake, submerging can help distract the bugs from your scent.

Then you should carefully remove the sting with tweezers, being careful not to damage the venom sac, and clean the site with an antiseptic.

Soothing creams are available from pharmacies to relieve the pain, but full recovery may take a few days.

dr Prudhomme said it may be necessary to “sedate” children “as the swelling can be quite impressive”.

The more stitches you have, the more attentive you should be to how you feel, because anything more than 20 in an adult or five in a child is dangerous. In this case, it is best to summon the samu, since the poison can induce fever or even convulsions.

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