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Worried About Summer Pests? Here’s How To Provide First Aid For Bites And Stings

Bee resting on finger

In Victoria, the warmer months cause an influx in animal and insect bites and stings. An increase of encounters with pesky animals and insects such as snakes, spiders, ticks, leeches, bees and wasps is one of the few inconveniences of the season but it doesn’t need to put a dampener on an otherwise sunny day if you know how to provide First Aid for bites and stings.

What Happens If You Suffer From A Bite Or Sting

Bites and stings generally only cause mild pain, discomfort, itching, swelling and redness around the affected area. However, depending on the area of a sting it could have fatal consequences if stung inside the mouth, on the tongue or throat.

Australia is home to a number of poisonous animals and insects. If bitten or stung by these creatures the outcome can potentially be deadly if the injured doesn’t receive the appropriate First Aid for bites and stings in the first initial moments.

Whether you suffer from a bite or sting from a deadly or relatively harmless critter always use the appropriate First Aid for bites and stings to prevent infection and aid the beginning of the healing process.

First Aid for Bites And Stings

There are many different native animals and insects in Victoria that can inflict bites or stings which cause a variety of side effects. Although there may be different species of animals and insects the First Aid for bites and stings for each category remains the same.

Follow our tips on how to provide First Aid for bites and stings for Victoria’s most common offenders:


There are more than 20 spiders that are commonly found in and around workplaces, homes and gardens throughout Victoria but most will only cause mild irritation through manageable symptoms if bitten. However, the Australian Funnel-web Spider and Redback Spider bite affects the nervous system and can be severely dangerous if anti-venom is not provided. These are the only two spiders that have caused deaths in Australia in the past.

Spider Bite Signs And Symptoms:

You may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Sharp pain in bite area
  • Severe increase of sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain

First Aid For Spider Bites:

For all harmless spider bites, including Redback spiders, use the following First Aid for Spider Bites:

  1. Follow DRSABCD
  2. Lie casualty on back
  3. Reassure and calm the casualty
  4. Apply the cold pack and compress to relieve discomfort
  5. Seek medical assistance if severe symptoms develop

If it is a bite from a Funnel-web spider, provide the following First Aid treatment:

  1. Follow DRSABCD
  2. Call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
  3. If on a limb, apply a broad pressure bandage over the bite area
  4. Apply a firm pressure immobilisation bandage starting just above fingers or toes and pass the bandage as far up the limb as possible
  5. Ensure the casualty remains still

If someone is experiencing anaphylaxis, call Triple Zero (000).


Ticks are often known to attach themselves to our beloved house pets but they do also pose a risk to people. The consequence of a tick attaching itself to a person is much less severe than for cats and dogs, but should still always receive First Aid to minimise discomfort and the onset of symptoms.

Ticks Signs And Symptoms:

A tick bite is likely to cause mild irritation but if you’re allergic you may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain or swelling at bite area
  • Rash around the bite area
  • Burning sensation around the bite area
  • Blistering around bite area
  • Difficulty breathing

First Aid For Ticks:

  1. Follow DRSABCD
  2. Remove the tick using tweezers or an equivalent, press skin down around where the tick has attached its mouth
  3. Clasp the mouth area firmly and lift the tick gently to detach – do not squeeze the body of the tick throughout the removal process
  4. Apply cold pack if required
  5. Monitor breathing and response – provide CPR if necessary
  6. If the casualty suffers a severe allergic reaction call triple zero (000). If their allergy is diagnosed, retrieve their EpiPen for them to inject or do it for them if they are unable.
Bitesize Bites and Stings
Learn how to successfully provide first aid to a casualty suffering a bite or sting in this interactive online course.

You can read our guidelines on how to provide First Aid for an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) here.


In Victoria, leeches can be found in rivers, dams, creeks or lagoons. Leeches don’t pose a severe risk but should always be treated with First Aid to assist healing.

Leech Signs And Symptoms:

If a leech has attached itself it will generally remain in place so you will know if you have come in contact with a leech. Leeches are thick, black, shiny grub looking creatures. The size of the leech generally depicts how long it has been attached; the longer it has been attached the larger it will be.

Leech First Aid Management:

  1. Follow DRSABCD
  2. Do NOT pull the leech off
  3. Apply salt or a hot object such as an extinguished hot match
  4. Treat the wound as a bleeding injury
  5. Apply pressure to the wound to restrict the flow of blood with a pad and dressing
  6. Maintain pressure on the pad/dressing with a roller bandage

Bees and Wasps

Whether it’s a bumblebee, honey bee or wasp people are generally wary of the buzzing bugs in the summertime. Unless you are allergic or have an anaphylactic reaction to bees, the signs and symptoms caused by a sting will have a minimal, short-lasting effect but should be treated with First Aid to minimise pain and discomfort.

Bee And Wasp Sting Signs And Symptoms:

You may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Instant and intense burning pain in the sting area
  • A red spot at the sting area
  • Swelling around the sting area
  • Redness

Bee And Wasp First Aid Management:

  1. Follow DRSABCD       
  2. Apply a cold compress or ice pack on the sting area       
  3. Seek medical assistance if required


Due to the varying climates in Australia, we see a large number of different snake species across the country. There are 110 land snakes and 32 sea snakes reported to inhabit Australian soil, and Victoria is home to many. 

To find out a more in-depth outline of Australia’s deadly snakes and how to provide First Aid if you suffer a nasty encounter with the agile animal, read our Snake Bite First Aid Tips.

Much like us, summer is the time certain animals and insects emerge from hibernation and explore the environment around them. Most of the time these animals and insects are harmless and uninterested in us but you never know when your First Aid for bites and stings may become useful.

Summer is a time for adventure and the increased presence of pests certainly doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your time out in the sunshine. Knowledge of how to provide First Aid for bites and stings provides peace of mind to those confronted with a slithering snake, creepy-crawly or buzzing bug in the summertime.

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Learn how to manage a range of common first aid scenarios.

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Learn how to provide First Aid in remote areas where access to medical aid is difficult or delayed, including alpine, desert, marine, rural and tropical environments.

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St John has a range of First Aid products to suit any situation.