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Prevention - Insect bites and stings

To reduce your risk of being bitten or stung by insects:


  • stay calm and move away slowly if you see wasps, hornets or bees

  • cover exposed skin with long sleeves and trousers when insects are active outside

  • wear shoes when outside

  • use insect repellent on exposed skin - repellents that contain 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide) are most effective

  • take care around flowers, rubbish and outside areas where food is served

  • keep food and drink covered when outside, particularly sweet things

  • close doors and windows or put thin netting over them to stop insects from getting inside


  • do not wave your arms around or swat at wasps, hornets or bees

  • do not use products with strong perfumes, such as soaps, shampoos and deodorants - they can attract insects

  • do not disturb insect nests or caterpillars - if a nest is in your house or garden, arrange to have it removed through a pest control service

  • do not camp near water, such as ponds and swamps - mosquitoes and horseflies are found near water

Avoiding tick bites

Ticks are mainly found in woodland and mountain areas. They can cause Lyme disease.

To reduce your risk of a tick bite:


  • keep to footpaths and avoid long grass when out walking

  • cover your skin and tuck your trousers into your socks in tick-infested areas

  • use insect repellent on exposed skin - repellents that contain 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide) are most effective

  • wear light-coloured clothes so ticks are easier to spot and brush off

Tick bites are not always painful.

After being outdoors, check for ticks on your:

  • skin, including your head, neck and skin folds
  • children's head and neck, including their scalp
  • clothes
  • pet's fur


Remove any ticks you find as soon as possible to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease

How to remove a tick

Taking care when travelling abroad

In some parts of the world, insects can carry serious diseases such as malaria so you need to be extra careful.

Before travelling:

  • find out what the risks are in the area you are going to
  • check if you need any vaccines
  • speak to your GP about any extra precautions and medication you might need to take, such as antimalarial tablets

Travel vaccines

Insect infestations

If you've been bitten by fleas, mites or bed bugs, you may have an infestation in your home.

Flea infestation

Signs of a flea infestation include:

  • fleas or flea poo in your animal's fur or bedding
  • crusting on your dog's fur
  • excessive scratching and grooming in cats

To get rid of a flea infestation:

  • treat your animal and their bedding with an insecticide
  • vacuum your carpets and soft furnishings

Talk to your vet if you're unsure if your pet has fleas.

Mite infestation

Dandruff on your cat or dog is a sign of a mite infestation.

Get advice from your vet if you have a mite infestation. Your pet will need a strong treatment.

Bed bug infestation

Signs of a bed bug infestation include:

  • spots of blood on your bed sheets
  • an unpleasant almond smell

To get rid of a bed bug infestation, you will need to treat your home with an insecticide from a pest control company.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 25 March 2021
Next review due: 25 March 2024

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.