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Insect stings while riding

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Insect stings while riding

Old 09-15-16, 01:24 PM
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Insect stings while riding

Prior to two years ago, in two decades of weekend trail riding, I had been stung by an insect while riding a total of two times. In 2015, my first year cycle commuting, I wasn't stung at all. So far this year, on the same path, I've been stung 4 times: twice in the chest just below the chin, once in the temple, and once in the ear (I kid you not, just at the opening of the ear canal).

The stings have all felt like yellow jacket stings, which are somewhat common in Colorado.


Their stings aren't too painful initially, but then they ache annoyingly for several hours afterwards.

In each case, I've been surprised by how hard the bug hits me. I've received these stings at speeds probably between 15 and 20 mph, so the bug packs a mini wallop. I suppose he (or she) stings me out of surprise.

I did some searching on the forums and I notice stings coming up occasionally, but I didn't find a conversation specifically about it.

How often do you get stung? Do you take any particular steps to avoid them? Or is it simply a fact of life when you're racking up the miles day in and day out?
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Old 09-15-16, 01:56 PM
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Never on a bike.

I once had a bee fly into my helmet. I panicked and crashed the bike into a parked car and took my helmet off. I wasn't hurt, and I didn't break or dent anything, so I laughed.
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Old 09-15-16, 02:00 PM
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Been a long time since I have been stung on my commute, several years at least.

Couple months ago I rode right through a swarm of bees on my way home and escaped without getting stung. Didn't see the swarm until I was right in it. And of course it was on a little uphill section of the MUP so was going slow. Could have ended badly for me. Just lucky I guess.
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Old 09-15-16, 02:02 PM
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in 9 years of near daily bike commuting, i've only been stung once while riding.

it was awhile back, at least 5 years ago. i was zooming along chicago's lakefront trail when a yellow jacket flew into one of the vent holes on my helment. he got stuck in there, got angry, and stung me. i immediately braked hard and jumped off the bike while simultaneously unclipping my helmet and throwing it to the ground.

little bastard flew away.

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Old 09-15-16, 02:06 PM
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Yeah, yellow jackets hit you like a projectile, and they often go for the ears and head in general. I've had it happen several times. It is extra special when they get in your helmet or some bike garment, which you then try to strip off while bringing the bike to a controlled stop. My Giro Air Attack helmet has helped quite a bit.
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Old 09-15-16, 02:15 PM
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I think it's just a "fact of life".
If you ride in the months that stinging/biting insects are flying around... you'll hit one eventually.
Maintain control of the bike and get it safely off of the road as soon as possible. Do the "bee dance" to get the little bugger off of you and then continue on your way. Carry an epi pen if you are allergic.
This is one of the reasons why I always wear some sort of eyeware whenever cycling.
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Old 09-15-16, 02:49 PM
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I probably get stung about once a year, usually during a training ride or race. We're in one of the great agricultural areas of the world so bees are a fact of life.

But it was on a commute ride home a few years ago when I ended up in the ER because I'd developed a bee sting allergy. It was hot so my jersey was partially unzipped and a bee got in underneath. I was trying to be nice and let him out, but he stung me just above the nipple. Got head to toe hives within 5 minutes. Ten minutes later I got home and had my wife call the advice nurse. By this time I am starting to get raspy breathing and a ringing in my ears. Then I vomited. The advice nurse says to go to the ER *now*.

When you arrive at the ER with anaphylaxis, you jump to the head of the line. They gave me a shot of epinephrine to stop the anaphylaxis and had me take a prilosec, which helps bind up the toxin in your blood stream. Back to normal almost instantly.

Now I wear a Road ID with "bee sting ana" noted and I always carry an EpiPen. Interestingly, I have been stung by wasps and have not had the reaction. They're both stinging insects, but totally different animals, totally different toxins.

It's just one hazard on the road I can't control, but I can plan for the effects of it.
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Old 09-15-16, 03:31 PM
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Bees. Always bees. Sting twice on one ride, within a 30 minute period-- one on the thigh, the other on the side of my head (went in the helmet vents.) The one on my head was fine-- no stinger left behind, pain had completely subsided within an hour. The one in my thigh, there must have been a tiny bit of stinger left behind, because I had a red bump that itched for probably a month, and didn't fade away for about 6 months.

I think 4 stings in 2015 (we have a whole lot of orange groves local to us) and just one this year, again, on the top of the head. As far as bee strikes go... oh, I dunno. Hundreds. I came home from a ride one day with two dead bees stuck to the downtube.
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Old 09-15-16, 04:33 PM
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All warm climates. I have never been stung. even riding a mountain bike on trails like the NCR, and C&O.
Warm climates are nice, but since it doesn't get cold it doesn't kill them off. And that would really bug me.
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Old 09-15-16, 05:04 PM
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A few years back I rode through a swarm of bees. One flew in my mouth and stung me. I spit it out, and pedaled like crazy to get away, while also digging the stinger out of the roof of my mouth. My mouth was numb by the time I got home.

Three months ago one stung me on the leg. Still have a welt.
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Old 09-15-16, 05:07 PM
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Got stung one this past summer. I thought it was just some debris that hit me on the neck, but then it started to hurt moments later, like a insect sting. I thought, that can't be; I was going 30+ km/h. But there you go.
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Old 09-15-16, 05:10 PM
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I got stung by a yellowjacket on my face once while riding my motorcycle. It flew up over the windshield and under the visor of my helmet at about 60 mph and stung me just under the eye before it died. It hurt like hell, and when I was able to stop in about a mile my wife and friend wondered why I stopped in a bad spot until I took off the helmet. I used a sting stick on it and the bite went down after a while, but it left a welt for a while too.
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Old 09-15-16, 05:54 PM
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I was on a long ride and in the aero position on my aero bars. I was wearing my crochet back gloves when I felt a burning sensation on the top of my hand, then it started to sting I looked down and the bee was crawling in my glove. So I sat up and started hitting it then crushed it. That's the only time I've been stung on a bike ride. However I've been stung numerous times. I was stung twice in one day on two separate occasions, no fun.
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Old 09-15-16, 07:16 PM
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After many years of no stings on the bike, got stung by a bee 30 miles into a 50 mile club ride couple of months ago. Out in the country moving along at 16 mph, suddenly felt sting on front of my ankle. Looked down and saw a suicidal honeybee, stuck where he stung me. Got over onto the shoulder and stopped and removed the bee with a piece of roadside plastic trash and then got my multi tool out and removed the stinger with needle nose pliers. Back on the road and continued the ride but alert for signs of anaphylaxis. Just some local swelling and discomfort which lasted a week. Glad it didn't land on my face or fly up my shorts....................
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Old 09-15-16, 08:18 PM
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I've had two stinging bugs fly into my partially unzipped jersey. One got me good and flew off, and the other I trapped in the fold and crushed. Looked like a yellowjacket. Worst sting, though, was from a spider while I was taking a break sitting on a log. It must have crawled onto my shorts, and bit me when it became trapped under my arm. Now that hurt!
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Old 09-15-16, 08:20 PM
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It does come and go by year. I think yellow jacket population has good and bad years, and you may also have a situation where there is a particular concentration along your route.

I've had them get down my shirt a few times. About half the time I can squish 'em before they get me. I just pull to the side and eject the body, and if I got whacked make sure I'm not still holding a stinger, and get on with it. The burn is usually gone within a couple of miles with the extra blood flow from riding anyway.
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Old 09-15-16, 08:49 PM
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Bees, about once a year. But once in a hot day, climbing slowly on a mountain pass, a lot of horseflies tried to feed on me. The best I could do was try to keep them off (while riding) with a twig I picked up from a tree.

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Old 09-16-16, 06:35 AM
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Something got into my helmet once while I was riding on a MUP and I felt multiple wacks. Nobody else was around and I didn't even stop. But I yanked off my helmet in a heartbeat. I was pretty close to home and continued on so my wife could check it out.

But that was probably 4 years ago and I don't think I've had any stings since.
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Old 09-16-16, 07:35 AM
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It's been a few years. Don't know what it was. Something brushed my hair as I was going under a palm tree in the dark hours. I brushed at it with my hand and it stung the webbing between my thumb and forefinger.
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Old 09-16-16, 03:48 PM
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Yup, riding bicycles and motorcycles. Usually they don't have enough time to inject much venom in hit-and-fly encounters. Unless they can latch onto your clothing or arm/leg hair, etc.

But if you're highly allergic or sensitized, even a small amount can be painful. Fortunately I'm not allergic and barely react unless the critter injects a full payload. I tend to react more to the formic acid from red ant bites (painful lumps about the size of a nickel or quarter) than to bee or wasp stings. I got stung two or three times quickly while stopped on the local MUP trail head the other day, all on the right forearm. I'd stopped to chat with a couple other cyclists. Turned out the sign I was leaning on had a yellow jacket nest between the double-faced sign. Other than the mild and brief discomfort of needle-prick stinging pain, I had no reaction. Probably didn't inject much venom. I never felt the critters so they didn't land, just hit and run.

If you don't already take a daily second generation antihistamine you might consider it. Zyrtec and generics work for me for respiratory allergies and to minimize asthma problems. Don't routinely take first generation antihistamines Benadryl if you can avoid them (besides making folks drowsy the anti-cholinergic effect can cause confusion and other complications for some folks, particularly when there are interactions with other meds). But I do usually carry a first aid kit that includes diphenhydramine (generic Benadryl). It's a good emergency relief med for folks who are highly allergic, if they don't have an EpiPen or other suitable emergency relief option.

A topical ointment containing diphenhydramine and other medications can help too -- supplemental or alternative ingredients in ointments can include hydrocortisone, salicylates used in muscle pain relief creams and for some skin rashes and even dandruff, eucalyptus and others.

I've used these on family members who had severe allergic reactions to wasp stings, but had no prescription emergency relief meds like the EpiPen or old style epinephrine injection kits (which are useless in real emergencies to the user, and useful only in the hands of skilled and experienced practitioners -- it can take up to two minutes to fill and administer those old style epinephrine injection kits, far too long for self-administration by sensitive victims, and often too long for panicky family or friends who are trying to help). In the case of a cousin who was dangerously allergic to wasp stings, the ER personnel confirmed the use of a single diphenhydramine capsule and topical ointment helped minimize the reaction to a sting on his neck that began swelling rapidly.
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Old 09-26-16, 11:03 AM
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Only once on a bike, on my calf.

A friend was stung in the back of the throat once. He left for a ride, then came back to the house a few minutes later with a stinger embedded in the back of this throat. His wife used tweezers to pull it out; he went back out and did his ride.
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Old 09-26-16, 11:31 AM
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This year seems to have produced a bumper crop of yellow jackets (meat bees) all over California. Sounds like that extends East.

Haven't had a problem with them riding, but did get stung by a bee in the calf while descending hwy 39 at about 40mph 2 weeks ago. When I stopped about 10 miles down the stinger and sac was still attached. in hindsight I should have stopped sooner and scraped it off.

A couple of years ago I hit an entire swarm that was in the shadow of a tree on a descent, but since they are not aggressive when swarming, didn't get stung, but the multiple splats were disconcerting. If the jersey had been unzipped that could have been a bad scene.
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Old 09-26-16, 12:17 PM
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No stings this year, but I got stung four times last year. Three were yellowjacket stings, all to my head or face. They weren't too bad because they were relatively high speed "collisions" and I don't think I got much venom. The fourth involved a bee that got into my jersey and that one was pretty painful. I don't know why I encountered so many last year though, I'll normally go years without getting stung.
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Old 09-26-16, 12:25 PM
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Update: last week I'm riding, I see something yellowish heading my way and towards my face instinctively I lowered my face to take the blow on my helmet. However it went into the opening part of my helmet And Yes it was a bee. Try to swat my head but I just hit my helmet. Pulled over and took my helmet off. Unfortunately it landed/stung me right on my already receded hair spot.
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Old 09-26-16, 01:22 PM
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Yellow jackets are angry this time of year. Often they have nests in the ground. Like on mt bike trails. What's worse than riding over a nest? Being the 6th person to ride over the nest. Bad. 3 stings on the back of each leg, one on the shoulder and on one arm. Was doing the angry man mt bike hill climbing crazy pace for the next 45 minutes. Like natural dope. Just angry and they itch for more than a week for me.
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