Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Bites and stings

Most insect bites and stings are considered minor, causing pain, swelling, and itchiness. These symptoms may last a few days.

General First Aid

  • If outside, move to a safer area.
  • Wash the sting/bite and use an ice pack to relieve pain and to slow the spread of the toxin.
  • Bee sting should scraped from the skin without squeezing the poison sac if it is still attached.
  • Seek medical advice if there are severe symptoms, such as widespread swelling, especially of the face or neck, difficulty in breathing, dizziness or a drop in blood pressure.

Two potentially life-threatening instances are poisonous spiderbites and particular sensitivity and allergy to bites or stings. In both cases medical advice should be sought. Very young children and the elderly are the most at risk.

The only poisonous spiders in New Zealand are the katipo and the closely related Australian red-back spider, which is found in some areas. Antivenom to these spider bites is available at hospitals and health centres. If possible, catch the spider responsible, so that it can be positively identified. There have been no deaths attributed to spider bites in New Zealand for many years.

People have different sensitivities to bites and stings. A bee or wasp sting can be life threatening for those people who are allergic and have been sensitised previously. Such people may need to carry an emergency pack and wear a medical ID bracelet. There are several deaths in New Zealand each year attributed to allergic reactions to bee or wasp stings.