Bugs, Bites, and Bee Stings

Bed Bug Bites

Bug Bites and Bee Stings: Raise your hand if you have ever seen an insect? Let children talk and say what they have seen. Introduce insects using models and posters. Insects have 6 legs and an exoskeleton (shell on the outside). Raise your hand if you have ever been bitten or stung by an insect? Let them talk about things that stung or bit them. Spiders, ticks, fleas, mites and lice belong to a group of animals called arachnids and they have 8 legs.

Discuss insects & arachnids that bite or sting (ex. bee, hornet, wasp, bumble bee, ant (fire ant & red velvet ant) flea, bed bug, chigger, louse, tick, and gnat. Discuss how some bites make you itch and some animals can carry diseases. Ticks bite you, suck your blood, and are most frequent in May and June. Female mosquitoes suck your blood to lay eggs in water. Bed bugs bite and suck blood and make you itch. Baby chiggers make you itch. They digest your skin with their saliva, lap it up, and fall off in 3 days.

Bees nest in old trees or hives, collect nectar and pollen, sting and leave the stinger and poison sac that pumps poison into you until you remove it. Make sure you remove the stinger and sac. Wasps’ are reddish brown, sting and nests under porches and buildings. Hornets are black and white, sting and make football nests in trees. Fire ants make tall hill that may go 15 feet deep. They bite you and it blisters and can be serious if you are allergic. Yellow Jackets are yellow with black stripes, sting, and live underground or in stumps. Spiders such as the black widow and brown recluse (violin spider) hide in dark places and can bite you if disturbed and make you very sick. Many spiders and scorpions like woodpiles for homes.

Remedy for bites & stings: Put ice on it or a mixture of baking soda and water. Witch hazel helps to eliminate itching. If you were going for a walk in the woods, how would you dress? Always wear shoes and socks, long pants, long sleeve shirt, cap or scarf, insect repellent with less than 10% deet, no bright colors or perfume, cover food, take water and don’t drink soda from an open can. Yellow jackets like them! Don’t swat at them or run around because that makes them angry. Move quickly and quietly away.

MATERIALS: Models of the animals: ticks, mosquito, ants, brown recluse spider, black widow, honeybee, posters of insects and arachnids, samples of larva, cocoons, nests etc.

Bug Jokes List

ACTIVITIES: Let children examine models of insects and spiders, their metamorphosis, and the posters of insects and arachnids. Children sing and act out “This is a Song about Sammy” using insects such as bee, grasshopper, butterfly, and ant. Share bug Jokes. Let children watch power point program on insects and spiders showing examples of them and what the bites look like.

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

Hairy vine – No friend of mine!

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

Nothing takes the fun out of being outdoors faster than an encounter with poison ivy. It regenerates readily, is everywhere, and people loathe it. All are perennials in the cashew family, and all cause a rash, blisters, and itch. “Leaves of three, let them be” is still the best way to identify poison ivy and poison oak. Poison ivy’s leaves are pointed. Poison oak’s leaflets are rounded. Poison Ivy’s “leaves of three” are glossy-green, but are tinged with pink in the spring, and take on a brilliant orange in the autumn. It has small, pearl-colored berries that are a favorite treat of many birds, which spread poison ivy seeds around the countryside.

The poison is an oily resin called urushiol that occupies every part of the plant, including the roots. The leaves, especially young ones, contain the most toxins. The oil can remain on tool handles and clothing for as long as a year. Dogs and cats can carry its potency on their fur. This is why you can come down with a rash without having seen poison ivy in months. Fortunately, the oils don’t always go to work immediately, especially on dirty or work-hardened hands.

Both poison ivy and poison oak grow in sun or shade, in wet or dry places, and turn vivid colors in fall. The berries are white and are a good identifier once the leaves have fallen off in early winter. Poison ivy can grow as a groundcover, a shrub, or a vine. Emerging leaves have a red tint to their edges. It grows as a vine or shrub. Both poison ivy and poison oak climb trees, sending out thick, hairy, aerial roots. Virginia creeper is often mistaken for poison ivy, but Virginia creeper has five leaflets, and blue-black berries.

Protect Yourself – If you come in contact with poison ivy, wash at once and launder your clothes using old yellow laundry soap or borax to cut the oil. (Soaps made with fat are ineffective.) For mild cases use calamine lotion, over-the-counter cortisone creams, and saltwater soaks, but severe cases require prescription cortisone. A barrier cream, IvyBlock, containing quaternium-18 bentonite, which bonds with the urushiol, promises to be effective 68%of the time, if applied before any contact with poison ivy.

Wear long sleeves, pants, closed shoes, thick gloves, and even a mask when removing poison ivy and poison oak. Ivy Block is an FDA-approved lotion that, when applied before exposure, prevents skin that comes in contact with urushiol from developing the rash. It’s available at drugstores.

Wash all clothes, even shoelaces (without touching them with your bare hands), after working near poison ivy and poison oak. Use hot water, detergent, and two wash cycles.

Wipe down any surface that has come in contact with the oil (tool handles, doorknobs, shoes, etc.).

Wash it away. Do not wipe with water. Urushiol is an oil. Rinse the affected skin with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, then with cold water. Don’t wipe. Wiping spreads the oil.

Burt’s Bees Poison Ivy Soap and Res-Q Ointment also remove the oil and relieve itching. Without treatment, the infected area will blister within a few hours to three days. The fluid in the blisters will not spread the rash, but any clothing that has come into contact with the oil will. Oral antihistamines can help, if needed.

Poison ivy and poison oak spread by seed and by their vigorous root systems. Birds eat the berries and deposit the seeds. If you have wooded or neglected areas surrounding your property, you probably have poison ivy as a neighbor, and given time, it will creep into your yard. Plants can be destroyed by covering them with black plastic or spraying them with the appropriate herbicides, but beware—even dead plants are infectious.

Five ways to beat this foe into submission:

1. Keep it out. Prevent poison ivy or poison oak from taking hold in the first place. If you are landscaping or tilling soil for a new bed or garden, don’t leave the ground bare for long.

2. Small infestations are more easily controlled than larger ones, because they have less-developed root systems, fewer stored food reserves in roots and rhizomes, and a smaller seed bank in the soil. Poison ivy can be readily pulled in early spring if only a few plants are involved.

3. Cut it off. As with all perennials, you must completely remove the root or the plant will resprout. Unfortunately, poison ivy roots can run underground for many feet before the plant reappears above ground. If endless digging is not appealing or an option, repeatedly cutting the plant to the ground eventually starves the root system and causes the plant to die. Plants climbing trees should be severed at the base. Don’t bother removing the vines from the tree; they don’t do any harm. The weed is just using the tree for anchorage. It’s not a parasitic relation- ship.

4. Smother it. Cover the infested area with thick black plastic sheeting, and plan to leave it there for at least a year, possibly longer. Make sure the plastic isn’t the type that degrades in the sun, and cover the edges with dirt to exclude all light.

5. Chew it up. Grazing animals, especially goats, are not bothered by urushiol and can clean up an infested area. They won’t take out the root system but will get rid of the top growth, weakening the plant overall.

Dispose of poison ivy and poison oak in plastic bags and put them out with the trash. The easiest way to do this is to put the plastic bags over your gloved hands, pull the plants into the bags, and then pull the bags inside out off your gloved hands, encasing the poison ivy inside the bag. Be nice to your garbage man and put the poison-ivy-filled bags into a larger, uncontaminated bag.

Don’t compost it. Urushiol remains potent for years—even, in dry climates, decades.

Never burn it. Breathing in smoke or soot from the plants may cause serious inflammation of respiratory mucous membranes.

Other Itchy plants are:

Myrtle spurge, or donkey tail has toxic, milky latex that can scar the skin.

Rue contains a photochemical in all parts of the plant that causes a heightened reaction to sunlight.

Spotted knapweed causes hives with repeated exposure.

The sap from the century plant will burn your skin.

Wild parsnip has a juice found in the leaves, stems, and fruits that causes photosensitization.


Best Indoor Plants for Oxygen and Sleep

1. White Jasmine enhances sleep, reduces anxiety, and smells heavenly.


2. English Ivy soaks up toxins in the air and puts out more oxygen at night.
It is the best for improving the quality of air and reduces air born mold by 94%.


3. Lavender reduces anxiety and stress and slows the heart rate down.
You can use the essential oil or put a plant in the room.


4. Aloe puts out a ton of oxygen at night.

5.Snake plants put out a lot of oxygen at night and improve the air quality.

Herbs for Repelling Insects

Herbs for Repelling Insects Herbs were our original household cleaners, disinfectants, and bug repellents! andThey were used with good results before humans came up with toxic chemicals. Herbs are better for the environment and continue to work for you when you put them in the compost heap. They enrich soil, add nutrients, and some like valerian attract earthworms.

1. Basil Delicious in pesto, tomato dishes, and salads. It is one of the best ways to keep flies out of your house. Plant basil next to the doors or use as a foundation planting mixed in with flowers. Flies will stay far away. Mosquitoes don’t like it either.

2. Bay Leaf Grow bay outside in S.C. Buy dried bay leaf if you are unable to grow it; Dried basil works for keeping pests away. One bay leaf in white flour keeps weevils out and also protects barley, cornmeal, oatmeal, quinoa, and rice. Scatter a few leaves on shelves to repel moths, roaches, earwigs, and mice. Flies hate the smell of bay leaves.

3. Lavender Small amounts add a wonderful floral and citrus flavor to baked goods, meats, and vegetables. It repels moths, mosquitoes, and fleas. Hang a bundle in your closet or lay sprigs with the stored clothes. Grind and sprinkle on your pet’s bedding. It repels mosquitoes, keeps rabbits out of your lettuce and spinach.

4. Mint, catnip, and pennyroyal planted around the foundation of your house will keep ants and mice out. Pennyroyal is repugnant to fleas, ants, flies, and mosquitoes. Large amounts of pennyroyal can be toxic to pets and children.
5. Rosemary repels mosquitoes and keeps moths out of clothing..
6. Sweet Woodruff is used to deter carpet beetles and moths. Lay it beneath wool carpets. It releases a sweet scent when you walk across your rugs.
7. Tansy repels flies, ants, fleas, moths, and mice.

Five of the most effective mosquito repelling plants

1. Citronella is a common natural ingredient in mosquito repellents. The aroma is a strong smell that masks other attractants to mosquitoes. It is used in scented candles and torches. The living plant is more effective because it has a stronger smell. Citronella is a perennial ‘clumping’ grass, which grows to a height of 5 – 6 feet. It can be grown directly in the ground in climate zones where frost does not occur. Citronella plants are considered low maintenance.They do best in full sun and well-drained locations. When purchasing citronella, look for the true varieties, Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus.

2. Horsemint (or Bee balm) is an adaptable perennial plant that gives off a strong incense-like odor that confuses mosquitoes by masking the smell of its usual hosts.
Horsemint is a fast growing, shade-tolerant and drought-resistant plant which reaches a height and width of 2 – 3 feet. It does well in dry, sandy soil and can tolerate salty conditions. It is often found in coastal and beach areas. Horsemint leaves can be dried and used to make herbal tea. Its flowers will also attract bees and butterflies to your garden.

3. Marigolds are hardy annual plants with a distinctive smell that mosquitoes find particularly offensive. Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. Marigolds prefer full sunlight and reasonably fertile soil. Potted marigolds can be positioned near entrances to your home and any common mosquito entry points, such as open windows. The smell may deter mosquitoes from going past this barrier. Besides repelling mosquitoes, marigolds repel insects that prey on tomato plants, so you may want to plant a few marigolds in your tomato bed for added protection.

4. Ageratum emits a smell which mosquitoes find particularly offensive. Ageratum secretes coumarin, which is widely used in commercial mosquito repellents.
Ageratum is a low-lying annual ornamental plant that will thrive in full or partial sun and does not require rich soil. It is often displayed in rock gardens where low-lying plants are favored. Although the leaves of Ageratum can be crushed to increase the emitted odor, it is not advisable to rub the crushed leaves directly on the skin.

5. Catnip is a natural mosquito repellent. Entomologists at Iowa State University reported to the American Chemical Society that catnip is ten times more effective than DEET, the chemical found in most commercial insect repellents. Catnip, Nepeta cateria, is very easy to grow. Some people apply crushed catnip leaves or catnip oil for more robust protection. Cats will respond to you similarly as they would respond to the plant itself. Cat owners may want to choose an alternative plant for repelling mosquitoes.
Many commercial insect repellents contain from 5% to 25% DEET. There are concerns about the potential toxic effects of DEET, especially when used by children. Children who absorb high amounts of DEET through insect repellents have developed seizures, slurred speech, hypotension and bradycardia.


10 Tbsp dried lavender flowers
20 drops Lavender oil
20 drops Cedar Wood oil
5 pieces of fabric, cut into squares
Ribbon and scissors

In a bowl, combine lavender flowers with essential oil. Stir until lavender fully absorbs the oils. Transfer to a glass jar, cover and store for 24 hours. Spread each piece of fabric on a flat surface. Place 2 Tbsp of the lavender mix onto the fabric. Pull up the corners of the fabric, and tie your ribbon tightly around the loose edges to create a ball. Secure with a bow or knot and trim fabric. Tuck each ball between clothing layers inside your drawers. These homemade mothballs smell good, and they are effective.


                         Nature is in Our Hands

Nature isn’t a place to visit, it is our home.  The most effective way to connect our children to nature is to connect ourselves.
 “It is not half so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to the natural world.”  Rachel Carson 
“What is the extinction of a lily to a child who has never seen a flower ? ”  Robert Michael Pyle
 “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein


 Controlling Mosquitos and Other Insects

Environmental Toxins

Green Cleaning

Wasteful Things We Can Do Without

The Health of Our Rivers

Safe drinking water

Air Pollution Key Facts



  I have small pools in my back yard that the frogs love, so I like to keep water in them. If you have a pool without running water, these little duckweed plants are just right to help keep the mosquitos out and the frogs singing. It  multiplies  quickly and  gets so thick that sometimes I scoop a net full out to fertilizer other plants.


Climate change is real! Be Prepared!


 Imagine, Grow, and Breathe Green!  Help keep our air, water, and soil clean and people healthy.









For icy steps and sidewalks in freezing temperatures, mix 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish washing liquid, 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, and 1/2 gallon hot/warm water and pour over walkways. They won’t refreeze. No more salt eating at the concrete in your sidewalks

Need to insulate a window? This works! Measure and cut bubble wrap. Spray water on glass and apply bubble wrap. It stays and you can remove easily with no sticking.


Crisco candle – Make your own Crisco candle for emergency situations. Simply put a piece of string in a tub of shortening, and it will burn for up to 45 days.










  Pine Filters   Pine filters remove 99% of bacteria from water.  This news is fresh out of MIT and is an exciting bit of information for those who love to live sustainably! “If you’ve run out of drinking water during a lakeside camping trip, there’s a simple solution: Break off a branch from the nearest pine tree, peel away the bark, and slowly pour lake water through the stick. The improvised filter should trap any bacteria, producing fresh, uncontaminated water. In fact, an MIT team has discovered that this low-tech filtration system can produce up to four liters of drinking water a day — enough to quench the thirst of a typical person.”
““There is a community of people who do look at sap flow and drying in plants because it’s obviously important, but that community doesn’t intersect with the water purification community,” said Karnik, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “They are thinking about how plants work and not how we can use plants to accomplish something else.”
Trees, the engineers learned in detail, have a tissue inside called xylem that transports sap. The hardwood at the center of the tree is old, dried xylem that has filled in with resins. But in the outer layer of the tree and in new growth is the xylem that transports sap.
Trees use an interconnecting structure of channels within the xylem—similar to pipes in parallel—each connected by a membrane that allows fluid through but blocks small particles or air bubbles. If bubbles formed and blocked the flow of sap, it could harm the tree’s health. The particular structure of conifer xylem seemed intriguing, Karnik thought, because a study of the structure 
of its xylem suggested it was likely to be a more effective filter than xylem from flowering trees.” 





1) Styrofoam is not a marketable product. It costs lots of money to process into a usable product (the process is called densifying), and polystyrene has an extremely low market value, so our vendors cannot make money off the product (remember that recycling is a business). That is the reason we cannot accept it for recycling. You can take your styrofoam egg cartons, meat trays, and cups to Publix for recycling, but I cannot give you any information on how they are able to process the materials in a cost-effective manner.

2) We cannot accept grocery bags or any type of plastic film in the City’s blue bins or at the County’s recycling centers because the plastic film causes problems with the vendor’s machinery during the sorting process; the film wraps around conveyor belts, and machinery must be shut down for prolonged periods so the bags can be fished out. It can only be processed in a certain way, which is why grocery stores can accept that type of material, but we cannot.

3) Spartanburg County operates 17 staffed recycling centers that are open from 7 AM until 7 PM, Monday through Saturday with the Landfill site closing at 4:30 PM; this is more staffed centers with more open hours than any other County! We cannot offer curbside recycling for the 290,000 Spartanburg County residents, so we have offered multiple sites throughout the County to make recycling as convenient as possible. If you’d like to find out about which private curbside vendors offer recycling, please call us!
4) Alkaline or “regular” batteries may be taken to the Battery Post on Union St. or to Batteries Plus on Blackstock Rd. Fluorescent bulbs may be taken to Lowe’s or Home Depot. You can also bring these items to the County’s Annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event (March 28, 2015). The County cannot accept these materials at our recycling centers, simply because it is extremely expensive to recycle them.

5) We cannot accept some items for recycling at all of our sites simply because the centers are too small to accept those items. We strive to make recycling convenient for all residents, while still maintaining an efficient process with a limited staff and a limited budget.

6) We can accept any type of plastic that is labeled with a recycling symbol with a number 1-7 with the exception of styrofoam and plastic film (i.e. grocery bags). If your plastic does not have a recycling symbol, or the symbol does not have a number, you can throw it away with regular household trash. If you experience any confusion about a particular item, please call the recycling coordinator directly at 949-1658.

Other issues we can easily clear up:
-We accept antifreeze, motor oil, oil filters, and lead-acid batteries for recycling at all 17 of our staffed recycling centers.
-We accept paint at all 17 of our recycling centers.
-Motor oil bottles ARE recyclable.
-Mixed paper & cardboard can be recycled together at all locations (we’re working on getting better signage).
-Cell phones can be recycled with electronics.
-Steel cans (vegetable, soup, tuna, cat food, etc.) CAN be recycled with our commingled items.

-If we are closed for the holidays, our staff will not be in the office, but please leave a voicemail because we can (and do) return calls even when we’re not in the office!
Please call us at 949-1658 or email jsdao@spartanburgcounty.org if you have a specific question, if you need something that confuses you cleared up, if you’d like a copy of our brochure, if you’d like to schedule a recycling education program for your school, church group, club, etc., if you’d like to know which recycling center is closest to you, if you’d like to schedule a tour of the Wellford Landfill, or if you’d like to hear our recycling coordinator give you a very long list of all the great reasons to recycle.