Australia’s richly unique flora and fauna is a point of pride for the country. More than 80% of the plants, animals, and insects found here is endemic, or found only in that specific area. These plants and animals attract all types of tourists from every part of the world. Many people, however, have a lot of misconceptions about the dangers presented by an encounter with these unique creatures. Insects, in particular, seem to inspire a lot of fear as they are present in large numbers and capable of getting into even the littlest nooks and crannies. 

This fear is not unfounded; many local insects actually do have painful or annoying bites or stings, and some of them are venomous or carry illnesses. At the same time, understanding the effects of common bites and stings, as well as how and why they take place, can dispel a lot of fear surrounding these insects. This can also help people avoid getting stung or bitten, as well as aid them in applying the first aid treatment and tools that they have specifically for these injuries.  

Which biting or stinging insect are you likely to encounter indoors or while exploring your surroundings? Here are 4 insects you should take note of:

  1. Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are lumped together with biting flies. While they are not as big a problem in Australia as in the other parts of the world, these insects carry diseases like malaria and dengue virus, which can be life-threatening. Avoid getting bitten by covering as much skin as possible, putting on insect repellent, and staying indoor in the early morning or at dusk. While mosquito bites are itchy, they rarely cause allergic reactions. You can alleviate the itchiness by washing the area with soap and water, then applying antiseptic to it.  
  2. Bed Bugs. These small, brown insects, which typically measure around 5 mm, can cause a lot of trouble. They are blood feeders and often eat at night, injecting anticoagulant into their victim’s skin so they can suck blood more easily. Bed bugs can be acquired by sleeping in affected hotels or picking up infested items like furniture and luggage. Some people may not have any reaction to bed bug bites, but there are also victims who suffer from intense itching, loss of sleep, or even swelling and secondary skin infections.  
  3. Honey Bees. After stinging a person, the honey bee dies and leaves the stinger on the skin. Improper removal of the stinger can aggravate the situation, and squeezing it can lead it to pump out more venom. If the victim is allergic to bee or wasp sting, seek medical attention immediately.
  4. Ants. There are several species of ants that people should watch out for at home and outside of it. These include bull ants and jack-jumpers, as well as the introduced fire ants. These ants have stingers, and people who are sensitive to them may even require hospitalization after getting stung. There are also species of ants that spray noxious chemicals, and people should also be aware of them. These include meat ants, coconut ants, and sugar ants, to name a few. 

Anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reaction, is a very real threat to people who have been bitten or stung by insects. This is often marked by difficulty in breathing, followed by collapse. Seek medical attention immediately should this happen. All said, most of the insects you’ll see outside or in your home don’t pose immediate threat. Nevertheless, it is still a wise choice to not disturb them and to observe them from a safe distance. 

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