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Africanized Killer Bees: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

December 18, 2018

The hybrid forms of the Western honey bees are the African killer bees. These killer bees originated when the mating between the Brazilian and the South African honey bees took place.

This species of killer bees came into recognition and were identified in the 1950s in Brazil. There was a very fast and rapid spread of the species throughout South America and Central America when some of its swarms escaped the land and went to visit these locations.

Discovery of the Africanized Killer Bees

The United States of America first recognized the Africanized Killer Bees in the year 1985 within an oil field located in California. The arrival of the permanent colonies of the Africanized bee in Texas from Mexico was seen in the year 1990.

In the recent era, the Africanized Killer Bees location is widespread throughout southern Nevada, southern California, western Louisiana, Arizona, Oklahoma, Central Florida, Southern Florida, southern Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico.

The Africanized honey bees have dangerous stings and are renowned for chasing other animals and people for a range of quarter miles if they get aggressive and excited. This has earned them the name of “Africanized Killer Bees” in America.

africanized bee on tiny flower

Why are Killer Bees Called Africanized?

The origin of the species of the bees was initially in Africa when then mated with the Brazilian bees to form into a completely new species of the killer bees. As it has its roots and ancestors from Africa, these bees are named “Africanized.”

Appearance of the Africanized Killer Bees

The Africanized Killer Bees have looks and appearance similar to the domesticated honey bees as one can hardly differentiate their bodies by simply looking at them. The killer bees are comparatively smaller in size than the honey bees and have a golden yellowish appearance with dark brown shades towards the posterior part of their bodies.

Africanized Killer Bee Infestation

Because of the similarity in appearance for the European honeybees and the Africanized honeybees, one can contact a pest control professional to know the best ways to eradicate their infestations. They check the appropriate signs that can mark the place for their habitats.

One must be extra cautious and take necessary precautions while checking the holes made in the ground. This becomes of primary importance while one plans to shift their property for maintenance of mow the lawns.

In case any dwellers stay within a range of one-hundred miles where the infestation level of the Africanized Killer Bees is common, coming in contact with any of the nest at any location must be avoided.

Africanized Killer Bees Original Habitat and Habits

africanized bee on flower

The Africanized honey bees usually live in small colonies and can build their nests in relatively unique places. These bees are commonly known to build their nests and live in old unused tires, boxes, empty cars, junk piles, tree limbs, crates, water meter box, utility poles, ground holes, mailboxes, empty pots, and many more such unused items.

The Africanized Killer Bees attack every individual and animals if they impose a threat to their colony. These Africanized Killer Bees mainly gather nectar and pollen from nearby flowers with which they feed the other residing bees and also their larvae.

Prevention of the Africanized Killer Bees

There are a lot of ways to get rid of the Africanized Killer Bees. If someone notices a nest or a colony of these bees near their dwelling place or property, a professional pest control team must be immediately contacted.

Self-dealing with these aggressive bees can be a menace for someone who has no experience in dealing with this species. The nest and colonies are usually small and in places that people can never think about generally.

The venom from the sting of an African killer bee is no less than a honey bee. But there is a difference; the bees usually tend to attack in larger swarms which can sometimes lead to lethal to humans and other animals that are attacked.

One, who faces an attack from the Africanized Killer Bees, must immediately run away from the swarm in a zigzag pattern and immediately seek some indoor shelter whenever they get a chance.

Jumping in any water body is not recommended at all to avoid the bees as these bees tend to wait just above the surface of the water for their attacked target to emerge up.

Self-Precautions to Deal with the Africanized Killer Bees

Food and garbage can be kept at completely sealed containers which make the Africanized Killer Bees in America less attracted towards those areas. The food containers must be thoroughly rinsed before they are put away or disposed of.

Standing water brings in moisture that attracts these killer bees most of the times. SO rinsing out stagnant water sources near homes helps in removing and decreasing the moisture level thus providing a comparatively lesser chance for the bees to feel attracted to the same area.

One must avoid dark colored apparels if they live in highly bee infested areas. People in these bee prone areas must also limit the cologne and perfume.

Symptoms of the Africanized Killer Bee Stings

The reactions occurring due to the stings of the Africanized Killer Bees can be systemic, toxic, localized, or even at times delayed. The localized reactions caused due to the stinging of an African killer bee can be accompanied with warmth, swelling, itching, redness on the skin, and pain.

The symptoms for the localized reactions are almost immediate and can stay for some hours to a week as per the size of the reaction and its severity. Nausea and Fatigue are the common symptoms of the largely localized reactions. Bacterial infections can be seen as a second stage if one scratches the point of infection repeatedly with unclean hands that are not medicated or disinfected.

The systemic reactions caused by the sting of an African killer bee can be followed by red and swollen bumps on top of the skin, breathing difficulties, and skin flushing. The systemic reactions can be mild or at times can also be lethal.

The worst case for a systemic reaction caused due to an African bee sting is anaphylaxis. The most common symptoms that are accompanied with anaphylaxis are hives, rashes, swelling of the throat accompanied by itching, dizziness, vomiting, stomach pain, and nausea.

In case of immense severity caused due to anaphylaxis, the symptoms can be shown in the form of shock, loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, and a rapid fall in the blood pressure. The deaths related to anaphylaxis are commonly noticed in humans due to insect stings.

In the United States, this is one of the major causes for which several people lose their lives. People suffering from a sting by the Africanized Killer Bees must immediately seek medical attention.

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Treatment of the Stings by Africanized Killer Bees

While attacking any victim, the Africanized Killer Bees often sting for multiple times as they chase in large swarms. These bees have barbed stingers, and these stingers get lodged deep inside the skin.

If a stinger is penetrated the skin, it must be immediately removed as soon as possible so that the release of the venom is curbed and does not flow out of the stinger in ample amount.

If one wants to remove the stinger themselves, they must swipe the infected area where the stinger is present with an object like a card and swipe them unless the black stingers in the center come out and dislodge.

It is of much importance to clean and disinfect the affected area as soon as a bee stings. The disinfection can be done with soap and cold water followed by ice pack compression or cold compression on the same area.

To get instant relief from the pain, over the counter drugs in the form of non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory medications can be used.

The hydrocortisone and antihistamines ointments can provide a soothing effect on the infected areas. In case the infection takes a worse turn, one immediately needs medical attention and help who can prescribe oral antihistamines and steroids.

In case of more serious infections emerging out, one must immediately rush to the hospital to get it treated. One having allergic reactions on their bodies due to bee stings must always carry epinephrine kits at all times if they reside in any location that is infested with the Africanized Killer Bees.

Final Words of Africanized Killer Bees

The Africanized Killer Bees are much more aggressive compared to the normal honey bees. The Africanized Killer Bees mainly try to protect their colonies and other residing bees at all times through stinging any of the threats nearby. The disturbance is what makes the Africanized Killer Bees aggressive.

No common insect repellants are useful against them nor does the products protect against their stings. Swatting at these Bees must be primarily avoided, and a single blow must be gently given from a safe distance.

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