Are you interested in learning more about poison prevention? Take our FREE online program. Click Here

Bites and Stings

Most stings or bites from an insect or spider will often cause minor swelling, redness, itching, and pain around the site. Some people are more sensitive and can experience an allergic reaction to stings and bites such as hives, rash, itchy palms and feet, swollen or itchy eyes, swelling of lips or throat, headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, fast heart rate, and difficulty breathing. If you are experiencing an allergic reaction, go to the nearest hospital or doctor right away.

Ants & Fire Ants

AboutSymptomsPreventionTreatment
Can be found almost anywhere

  • Most people who are stung will have redness, itching, swelling and some pain around the sting site
  • If an allergic reaction occurs go to the nearest hospital
  • Do not disturb or stand near ant mounds
  • Check your surroundings
  • Wash the site with soap and water
  • Apply ice to reduce any swelling and pain
  • Apply an anti-itch product
  • Call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for treatment advice

Bees, Wasps, Hornets and Yellow Jackets

AboutSymptomsPreventionTreatment
More abundant in the warmer months. Nests and hives can be found under roofs, in trees, and on equipment like ladders.

  • Most people who are stung will have redness, itching, swelling and some pain around the sting site
  • Some people may get hives, rash, itching palms and feet
  • Others may experience headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting or difficulty breathing (if you have any of these symptoms, go to the nearest hospital or doctor right away)
  • Wear light colored, long sleeve shirts and pants
  • Avoid perfumed soaps, shampoo, and deodorants
  • Use insect repellents
  • If a stinger is present, remove¬† it by gently scraping across it with a flat object. Do not pinch the stinger or use tweezers, this may force venom (poison) into the skin
  • Remove any jewelry near the site, as swelling may occur
  • Wash the site with soap and water
  • Apply ice to reduce any swelling and pain
  • Call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for treatment advice

Black Widow Spider

AboutSymptomsPreventionTreatment
The female black widow is a black, shiny spider with a red or orange “hour glass” shape on her stomach. The smaller, brown male spider is not poisonous. The black widow spins her web in dark, quiet places – under rocks, debris and woodpiles. Black widows also like attics, cellars and damp storage areas.

  • The bite of a black widow may be painful
  • Within 1 hour after being bitten, you may experience stomach pain, dizziness, stiffness and have trouble breathing
  • When camping, picnicking or engaging in other outdoor activities wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves and shoes
  • Avoid walking in tall brush and shrubs
  • Do NOT reach into rocky cracks, under logs or large rocks
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET to your clothing and sparingly to your skin (always read the label before using)
  • Before dressing shake out clothing, shoes and hats that have not been worn for awhile
  • Get rid of clutter in basements, closets, attics and garages
  • Dust and vacuum around windows, corners of rooms, under furniture and in storage areas regularly
  • Wash the bite site with soapy water
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling and pain
  • Call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 right away for more treatment advice

Brown Recluse Spider

AboutSymptomsPreventionTreatment
The brown recluse is a yellowish-tan to dark brown spider. It is about the size of a quarter. The brown recluse has a dark “violin-shaped” marking on its head. This spider also spins its web in dark, quiet places.

  • The bite of a brown recluse may be very painful.
  • Within 36 hours after being bitten, you may experience restlessness, fever, chills, nausea, weakness and joint pain.
  • A “bulls-eye” like blister or wound may develop at the bite site. If the wound is not treated by a doctor, it may get larger.
  • When camping, picnicking or engaging in other outdoor activities wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves and shoes
  • Avoid walking in tall brush and shrubs
  • Do NOT reach into rocky cracks, under logs or large rocks
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET to your clothing and sparingly to your skin (always read the label before using)
  • Before dressing shake out clothing, shoes and hats that have not been worn for awhile
  • Get rid of clutter in basements, closets, attics and garages
  • Dust and vacuum around windows, corners of rooms, under furniture and in storage areas regularly
  • Wash the bite site with soapy water
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling and pain
  • Call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 right away for more treatment advice

Saddleback Caterpillars

AboutSymptomsPreventionTreatment
Bright green with a brown “saddle” mark on the middle of its back. The caterpillar also has “horns” on both ends of its body.

  • If your skin comes in contact with the caterpillar, fine hairs on its body may inject venom (poison) into your skin. The sting can be very painful and the pain will last until the hairs are removed.
  • People may experience itching, burning, or a severe allergic reaction. (If an allergic reaction occurs go to the nearest hospital)
  • Wear protective clothing and gloves
  • Avoid any contact with one
  • Remove the fine hairs by gently touching the sting site with a piece of scotch tape. Do not use the same piece of tape twice.
  • Wash the sting site with soapy water
  • Apply ice to reduce the stinging sensation followed by paste of baking soda and water
  • If you are stung and feel a burning pain, have swelling, nausea, headache or weakness, go to the nearest hospital or doctor right away. You may be having an allergic reaction.
  • Call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for more treatment advice

Scorpions

AboutSymptomsPreventionTreatment
The species of scorpions found in Georgia are not dangerous. Usually active at night and can be found hiding under rocks, wood, or anything else lying on the ground.

  • The sting of a scorpion is like the sting of a bee or wasp
  • May experience stinging or a burning sensation
  • Symptoms usually subside within 48 hours
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Wear leather gloves
  • Shake out clothing or shoes before putting them on
  • Wash the site with soap and water
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling and pain
  • Call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for treatment advice

Ticks

AboutSymptomsPreventionTreatment
Tick bites are fairly common and harmless, but sometimes they can cause Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

  • Rash, chills, joint and muscle pain, cough, headache, and diarrhea
  • Wear light colored clothing to help spot ticks
  • Wear long sleeves and pants tucked into your socks or boots
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET to your clothing and sparingly to your skin (always read the label before using)
  • After being outdoors check your body and hair for ticks
  • Protect your pets by using flea and tick sprays, collars or medication
  • Remove the tick by using a thin-tipped tweezers and grasping it as close to the skin surface as possible. Pull upward with a steady pressure, remove the entire tick and flush down the toilet
  • Wash the area with soap and water once the tick is removed
  • Call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for more treatment advice

 

Snakes

Snakes can be found everywhere in the state of Georgia. Snakes are territorial and will attack if they feel threatened. While most snakes in Georgia are nonvenomous, there are 6 that are venomous.

CopperheadCottonmouthTimber/Canebrake RattlesnakePygmy RattlesnakeEastern Diamondback RattlesnakeEastern Coral SnakeSAFETY TIPS
The copperhead snake is the most frequent venomous snake bit in Georgia. It is aggressive if provoked. It has an hourglass shaped pattern on its back when viewed from above. It is found all over Georgia.

  • Common Symptoms: swelling, pain, bruising, weakness, shock, nausea, vomiting and metallic taste in the mouth
  • First Aid: Do NOT use a tourniquet or attempt to restrict blood flow to the area; Do NOT cut the wound or attempt to suck out the venom; Do NOT apply ice or heat. Remove jewelry and tight clothing near the bite. Keep the bitten limb below heart level. Stay calm and go to your nearest emergency department
The cottonmouth snake is easily identified by its cotton-white mouth. The snake is territorial and its first warning is showing its mouth before it strikes. These snakes are darker in color and a pattern may not be easily identified. They are commonly found in south and middle Georgia, but have been seen all over Georgia. They tend to be found around wet areas like lakes, rivers and swamps.

  • Common Symptoms: swelling, pain, bruising, weakness, shock, nausea, vomiting and metallic taste in the mouth
  • First Aid: Do NOT use a tourniquet or attempt to restrict blood flow to the area; Do NOT cut the wound or attempt to suck out the venom; Do NOT apply ice or heat. Remove jewelry and tight clothing near the bite. Keep the bitten limb below heart level. Stay calm and go to your nearest emergency department
The timber/canebrake rattlesnake is reported to be less aggressive than other snakes but will still attack if provoked or if it feels threatened. This snake is found all over Georgia.

  • Common Symptoms: swelling, pain, bruising, weakness, shock, nausea, vomiting and metallic taste in the mouth
  • First Aid: Do NOT use a tourniquet or attempt to restrict blood flow to the area; Do NOT cut the wound or attempt to suck out the venom; Do NOT apply ice or heat. Remove jewelry and tight clothing near the bite. Keep the bitten limb below heart level. Stay calm and go to your nearest emergency department
The pygmy rattlesnake is smaller than other venomous snakes in Georgia and can be more easily overlooked. It is grey with black spots which easily camouflages it with gravel, rocks, leaves and even roadways. This snake is found all over Georgia.

  • Common Symptoms: swelling, pain, bruising, weakness, shock, nausea, vomiting and metallic taste in the mouth
  • First Aid: Do NOT use a tourniquet or attempt to restrict blood flow to the area; Do NOT cut the wound or attempt to suck out the venom; Do NOT apply ice or heat. Remove jewelry and tight clothing near the bite. Keep the bitten limb below heart level. Stay calm and go to your nearest emergency department
This is the largest venomous snake species in North America. It can grow up to 6 feet in length and is easily identified by its “diamond” shaped patterns on its back. This snake is very aggressive and can strike its entire body length away from it, so it is important to keep your distance as it is very territorial. While this snake has been found all over Georgia, this species is most frequently found in south and middle Georgia.

  • Common Symptoms: swelling around the bite site that spreads, nausea and vomiting
  • First Aid:¬†Do NOT use a tourniquet or attempt to restrict blood flow to the area; Do NOT cut the wound or attempt to suck out the venom; Do NOT apply ice or heat. Stay calm and go to your nearest emergency department
The eastern coral snake lacks long fangs and will bite and stay attached as it chews to get venom into the skin. This snake is often confused with the non-venomous Kingsnake because of their similar patterns and colors (red, black and yellow or white). “Red on yellow, kill a fellow. Red on black, venom-lack”. If red bands are touching a yellow band then it is the venomous eastern coral snake. This snake is commonly found in south and coastal Georgia.

  • Common Symptoms: paralysis, swelling, pain, bruising, weakness, shock, nausea, vomiting and metallic taste in the mouth
  • First Aid: Do NOT use a tourniquet or attempt to restrict blood flow to the area; Do NOT cut the wound or attempt to suck out the venom; Do NOT apply ice or heat. Remove jewelry and tight clothing near the bite. Keep the bitten limb below heart level. Stay calm and go to your nearest emergency department
  • When camping, picnicking or engaging in other outdoor activities, wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves, and shoes; avoid walking in tall brush and shrubs
  • Wear shoes and heavy pants when walking and hiking in areas where snakes are likely to be found
  • Do not reach into rocky cracks, under logs, or large rocks
  • Do not touch a snake, even if a snake looks dead. A snake can still bite up to one hour after its death.
  • Do not tease a snake
  • Listen for hissing or rattling sounds as this can be a warning that you are irritating a snake

More Resources