KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Spring flowers signal bees to come out to pollinate making stings more common. Any kind of insect sting can be painful, but if your child is allergic, stings can cause serious and even deadly reactions. Dr. Ryan Redman, emergency room director at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital shares which insects’ stings can trigger an allergic reaction and first aid.  

Common insects which can trigger an allergic reaction 

Honeybees, yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps are the most common stinging insects that trigger an allergic reaction. In an allergic child, the sting causes the body’s immune system to overreact to the protein in venom, causing allergy symptoms.

Signs/symptoms of allergic reaction

Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Severe swelling
  • Wheezing
  • Trouble breathing or passing out (This is a sign of anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening. Seek medical attention immediately.)
  • Throat tightness
  • Hives

Will you know a child is allergic to bees the first time they are stung? 

Not necessarily. Allergic reactions to stings usually don’t occur when a child is stung for the first time. The reaction usually occurs when a child is stung for a second time or even later.

What to do if a child is stung 

In case of severe reaction, use an EpiPen if available and call 911.

In the case of a nonsevere reaction:

  • If insect’s stinger is visible, remove it as quickly as possible by scraping skin horizontally with edge of a credit card or your fingernail.
  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Apply ice or a cool, wet cloth to the area to relieve pain and swelling.


  • Avoid walking barefoot in grass.
  • Avoid playing in flower beds.
  • Never disturb an insect nest.
  • Avoid perfumes, scented body products and brightly colored clothing because they all attract insects.

For more information: