By Karen Miller Master Gardener Entomology Specialist

At the risk of sounding a bit dramatic, we as gardeners put ourselves in harm’s way each time we do what we love…garden! Bees and wasps try to sting us, and mosquitoes steal our blood while possibly infecting us with serious diseases.

Bees and Wasps: Let’s start with the bees and wasps. No one wants to be stung by a bee or wasp and for those of you with bee sting allergies, one sting can be deadly. Bees and wasps sting mostly to defend themselves. It is important to make sure they do not feel threatened by you. Bees and wasps are able to detect and follow strong scents like perfumes or colognes, so don’t smell like a flower. Avoid wearing bright colored clothing. Limit your outdoor clothing to light colors like white, beige and khaki. Don’t look like a flower. Bees and wasps are attracted to sugary foods and drinks, so if you snack while gardening stay away from the sugary ones. Don’t panic when you see a bee or wasp. Stand still, take a deep breath and stay calm. The insect is just trying to figure out what you are. Once it realizes that you are not a flower, it will continue on its way. Lastly, be sure to rinse empty soda and beer cans before tossing them in the garbage and always use tight fitting lids to cover the garbage can.

Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes transmit many diseases making it very important for gardeners and all to take every possible measure to avoid being bitten by this insect. Early morning and twilight seems to be prime time for the mosquito to be active. If mosquitoes are in your area apply insect repellent to uncovered skin surfaces when outdoors. Because the mosquito is able to bite through tight clothing with thin fabric, it is suggested that you wear loose fitting clothing when outdoors. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, so getting rid of any standing water will deter mosquitoes from laying their eggs. If you have small ponds or water gardens there are mosquito dunks available to use to kill the mosquito larvae. Just drop one in and let it do the work.

I hope I have given you some insight into staying out of harm’s way as you garden. Remember to stay hydrated when outside and make sure you are current on your tetanus shot.