How to Get Rid of Sweat Bees? Spending time outdoors has become essential in recent times. However, due to the intense heat of summer, you are likely experiencing significant perspiration. This leads to uncomfortable midday attire changes, increased use of deodorant, and the possibility of attracting bothersome insects, including sweat bees.
Although you might have encountered these small insects drawn to perspiration, it’s understandable if you lack knowledge about them. The term “bee” typically brings to mind their potent stings. However, remember the perspective of entomologist Roberto M. Pereira, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University of Florida: “While these sweat bees can be a nuisance, they pose no real threat to humans.”
To better understand sweat bees, their affinity for your post-workout perspiration, and effective methods for repelling them, here is the information you need.
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What are sweat bees, exactly?
Numerous varieties of sweat bees are present. These bees belong to the halictid family, encompassing over 500 species within the United States. Rufus Isaacs, Ph.D., an entomologist and professor at Michigan State University provides this insight. These bees form a diverse group of insects, including important pollinators.
In terms of size, sweat bees are relatively small, typically measuring less than half an inch in length. They display a range of colors, including green, bronze, and black, as described by Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., a certified entomologist and the director of operations education and training for Ehrlich Pest Control.
Similar to conventional bees, sweat bees are attracted to flowers and contribute to pollination. Meghan Milbrath, Ph.D., an assistant professor of entomology and the program coordinator of the Michigan Pollinator Initiative, confirms their role as beneficial pollinators in various settings like gardens, orchards, and native areas.
Where do sweat bees live?
In the United States, these insects have a broad geographical presence, although a majority of the species tend to inhabit the eastern part of the country. Troyano explains that their social behavior varies based on the species, encompassing both communal and solitary lifestyles.
Sweat bees display a nesting preference for soil and aged wood, a trait highlighted by Isaacs. This inclination implies that encountering sweat bees is more likely to occur in wooded areas or while enjoying leisure time in grassy parks, as opposed to walking along city streets.
Do sweat bees actually eat your sweat?
It might seem unpleasant, yet it holds factual: Sweat bees consume perspiration. “Sweat bees predominantly nourish themselves with the pollen and nectar of blossoms. Nevertheless, they must complement their diet with salt and moisture, which elucidates their attraction to human perspiration,” explains Troyano.
Do sweat bees sting?
They have the ability to sting, although the sensation is generally not strong. According to Isaacs, “Sweat bees will sting only if provoked, and they are simply seeking a bit of salt from the sweat on your skin when they land on you. Their sting is also quite mild, but it’s nothing like the sting of a wasp or honey bee.” Worth noting is that Isaacs has spent 20 years developing a garden to attract pollinators and has never been stung by a sweat bee.
How to get rid of sweat bees if they bother you:
Eliminating these organisms can prove to be a complex task. As noted by Milbrath, they can play a beneficial role in maintaining the well-being of your plants. Nonetheless, there are several steps you can take to reduce the probability of their presence around your domicile:
- Dispose of decaying wood: Following Troyano’s recommendation, eliminate aged branches and logs from the vicinity of your home. This action will decrease potential nesting sites for sweat bees.
- Seal burrows and holes: Exercise care in filling up openings in the ground, especially those located in sunny areas. Sweat bees tend to establish their nests in these locations.
- Utilize insect repellent: According to Glen Ramsey, a certified entomologist and senior technical services manager at Orkin, the use of over-the-counter insect repellents can dissuade sweat bees from alighting on you and delivering stings.
- Minimize exposed skin: While this might be challenging on warm days, reducing the amount of uncovered skin, particularly in areas prone to sweating, will limit the bee’s ability to land and feed, as per Ramsey’s suggestion.
How to get rid of sweat bees Naturally
Eliminating sweat bees naturally involves employing methods that do not rely on synthetic chemicals. Below are several strategies you can adopt:
- Remove Attractants: Sweat bees are drawn to human perspiration and floral scents. Avoid using strongly scented lotions, perfumes, and vibrant clothing that might attract them.
- Alter Nesting Areas: Sweat bees often create nests in the ground or small crevices. Fill holes and burrows in your yard to discourage nesting. If there are wooden structures, repair or replace decaying wood that could serve as potential nesting sites.
- Create Distractions: Plant bee-friendly flowers away from frequently used areas to divert sweat bees from your living spaces.
- Utilize Natural Repellents: Essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, and citronella can act as natural repellents. Dilute essential oils and apply to your skin or use outdoor diffusers to deter sweat bees. Growing herbs such as mint, basil, and lemongrass in your garden can repel sweat bees due to their potent scents.
- Craft Traps: Construct simple traps using shallow containers filled with a mixture of soapy water and a sweet liquid. The bees are lured by the sweetness, fall in, and drown.
- Provide Alternative Water Sources: Sweat bees are attracted to water sources. Offering a small, shallow water dish with rocks can redirect their attention away from you.
- Use Physical Barriers: When outdoors, consider wearing light-colored, long-sleeved clothing to minimize exposed skin. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses can provide additional protection.
- Encourage Natural Predators: Birds and insects like dragonflies are natural sweat bee predators. Creating an environment that attracts these predators can help control sweat bee populations.
- Professional Help: In cases of severe infestations or substantial problems, consulting a professional pest control service that specializes in environmentally friendly or natural approaches may be beneficial.
It’s important to note that sweat bees are generally not aggressive and rarely sting without provocation. If they are not causing significant harm, coexisting with them while utilizing these methods to reduce their impact could be a viable option.
Employing your utmost diligence to confine yourself indoors when confronted with heightened perspiration, much like promptly seeking shelter to cleanse your body following an arduous workout session, can also contribute significantly to diminishing the probability of being swarmed by these tiny creatures. In the unfortunate event that a sweat bee happens to alight upon your person, it is of paramount importance to maintain a state of equanimity.
Subsequently, employing a delicate touch to gently brush the bee away is the recommended course of action. It is noteworthy to mention that sweat bees, by and large, exhibit a non-hostile demeanor; however, it is essential to acknowledge that the female specimens possess the capacity to administer a sting when they perceive a threat, particularly if subjected to sudden and aggressive movements such as swatting.
In instances where you find yourself grappling with a situation wherein your domicile appears to be besieged by a proliferation of sweat bees, or your outdoor ventures are invariably marred by relentless encounters with these insects, the prudent step to undertake would involve enlisting the expertise of a seasoned professional in the realm of pest management. Their comprehensive knowledge and experience can play a pivotal role in the identification and elimination of the source of the infestation, thereby restoring to you the serenity of engaging in outdoor activities without the irksome disturbances caused by these insects.