Dear Mike F.,

OK, Mike, lets look at what engendered the response you got:
"I just got a frantic email from distraught parents begging for an identification of a monster they just discovered in their lawn that is certain to be the death of their precious doe-eyed child. They were desperate to know: What is it and how do we murder it?"

In this line, you set the tone for your way of dealing with the issue.  First, it is a "distraught parent."  It is never appropriate to make fun of a distraught parent.  No matter how stupid, ignorant nor uneducated they are, they are a "distraught parent," and deserve respectful treatment.  This has NOTHING to do with political views, it is simply appropriate behavior.

Next, you say "I'm putting together a rough draft of a standard statement about stinging insects that I would include with (or within) stinging insect ID requests. I've included it below. Any thoughts/ideas? "

So, you are indicating that what you are writing would be referred to "distraught parents."  The information you wrote trivializes their concerns, when in fact, there is the chance that their child might actually die.  At the point they would read your statement, they do not know if that is the case or not.  I know outcome, this is a remote, vanishingly small, chance, but it is not zero, and to the audience you are asking about, i.e. "distraught parents," your response is totally inappropriate. 

Then, you respond with "Next time my wry humor rears its ugly head I'll yell 'just kidding' at the computer so everyone knows it's a joke. "  In fact, you asked a serious question about a serious matter, a matter that to your identified audience of "distraught parents" is literally a matter of life and death.  Not a place to be forced to claim "just kidding."

Yes, you are a professional at diagnostic work on insect ID, but not a professional adult education specialist, which is what Extension professionals are.  Your draft reinforces that conclusion.

Do the id, and refer the medical and control recommendations to those who don't have the problem of  "over-the-top exaggeration."

Mike I




On 4/25/2016 8:33 AM, Mike Ferro wrote:
[log in to unmask]" type="cite">

Well this has turned out to be a lot of fun! Many thanks to everyone who has responded on and off the list.

 

My initial email started with what I thought would be an easily recognizable, over-the-top exaggeration, or lampoon, of many entomologist's attitude toward other's fear of the insect unknown. I guess compared to today's political rhetoric it appeared toned down and subdued… Next time my wry humor rears its ugly head I'll yell "just kidding" at the computer so everyone knows it's a joke.

 

The part that I intended to include within responses to the public began below the line under my name and started with: "Scared of getting stung…"

 

My purpose is to create a well-thought-out response that I could include (copy and paste) within a larger response whenever an insect sting/bite question arises (I don't know where the idea I was going to make a "funny website" came from). I fully appreciate the difficulty of this (that's why I asked the group for help) because it is a public health issue. On the other hand, it is a public health issue(!) and I should have a reasonable response, even if it's just to send the person to the local extension entomologist (which is perfectly fine). If we want to get money and politics involved (which really doesn't seem necessary, but this is America) my salary comes from taxpayers, I work at a state school, part of my job is diagnosis and outreach, and I have a Ph.D. and all the necessary claptrap required to be a labeled "professional", so maybe I have a "responsibility".

 

Since I do a lot of outreach already, I see sting education as a valid part of that outreach. The public represents a spectrum, some people can't change the ideas/attitude they developed when they were younger, and some people, when given a chance, change and become amazing students of, and advocates for, nature (this is my favorite example: https://mailweb.pugetsound.edu/pipermail/odonata-l/2001-June/003274.html). I included the bit about Justin Schmidt because there are people out there that are willing to learn but haven't yet been exposed to that realm of knowledge/ideas. XKCD did a great comic about this topic: https://xkcd.com/1053/

 

Since people will encounter stinging insects their entire lives and fear and Raid may not be the best prevention strategy I want to try to provide them with good advice.

 

My goals within the response are to: 1) educate about the differences between a painful sting and a life-threatening allergic reaction; 2) help put stings in better perspective; 3) suggest that being observant and not panicking is a better long-term sting preventer than gassing the landscape every time something moves.

 

Based on the responses on and off the list there are three issues here: 1) Diagnosis of the specimen; 2) medical issues; 3) control issues.

 

Diagnosis: I'm comfortable with what I do and don't know, am happy to pass people on to other experts, etc. No worries there.

 

Medical issues: Other websites (including the ones I included from the CDC, USDA, Wikipedia, and Clemson extension pages) include descriptions of the effects of stings, which is what I've done, but I didn't offer any advice on what to do if stung (=medical advice). I think my statement falls within the bounds of what the community (the links mentioned above) offers and aren't inappropriate.

 

Control issues: I didn’t give any control advice in the first draft and was encouraged not to, as I'm not "qualified" to offer control advice. I agree. I don't know the chemicals or the brands and I don't care. I'm more than happy to pass the buck on this. The advice I think I can give, beyond talk to your local extension agent, is: "Find a product at the store that can be used on that insect and follow the instructions."

 

Here is what I have so far. I don't like how long it is, but I think it contains the basic elements of what I want to give people. Of course anyone can use this, modify it, etc. anyway they like, I don't mind. 

 

Thanks for helping,

 

Mike

 

--------

 

 

Scared of getting stung by a bee or wasp?

 

Stinging insect are like peanuts: Deadly dangerous to some people, but harmless and enjoyable to others. Visit the links below for information and advice. The following is not meant to be taken as official medical or control advice.

 

Background Information:

Only female insects can sting. Stinging is expensive and dangerous for the insect (they only have so much venom, and don't want to get close to you). She doesn't "want" to sting you. Insects only sting when they feel threatened. If you get stung you may have accidentally gotten too close to a nest. Stinging caterpillars can only "sting" if you touch them, usually when you accidentally brush against them. Go here to learn about our local stinging insects: www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/esps/factsheets/

 

Are you "Allergic"?

A lot of people say they are "Allergic" to bee and wasp stings. What kind of reaction do you have?

 

Systemic, Allergic, Life Threatening: About 2 out of 1000 people are allergic (hypersensitive) to bee/wasp/scorpion stings (www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=11067&page=1 , en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaphylaxis). For these people a bee sting can be life threatening. A severe reaction includes vomiting, shortness of breath/inability to breathe, stomach cramps, unconsciousness, etc. Allergic people may have a major reaction to pretty much ANY sting, whether from a giant scary wasp, a boring little ant, or a helpful honey bee.

 

Local Reactions: For most of us the sting hurts, we experience local swelling (e.g., a few inches around the sting, half an arm, etc.), redness, etc. Generally the swelling subsides in a few minutes to hours and the pain goes away. Amazingly, medical sites say the average person (adult or child) could tolerate more than 100 bee stings and not die (but it wouldn't be fun, either!).

 

Fun fact: There is an entomologist who created a sting pain index by letting things sting him and then rating the pain (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schmidt_sting_pain_index). He just wrote a book, The Sting of the Wild (http://amzn.com/1421419289).

 

If you do want to control a stinging insect find a product at the store that can be used on that insect and follow the instructions. For more specific advice contact your local extension entomologist. For South Carolina contact Eric Benson, [log in to unmask]

 

In my experience getting stung is 1) a rare event, 2) not fun, 3) but not the end of the world, 4) helps place minor aches and pains in perspective, and 5) results in an important increase in awareness of one's surroundings. Being observant and not panicking are about the best long-term sting preventers.

 

Good sites to get more information about insect stings and stinging insects:

www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/esps/factsheets/

www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/biol_hazards/bees_wasps.html

www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/insects/

www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=11067

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_sting

 

Honey Bee Colony Removal: www.clemson.edu/extension/beekeepers/factsheets/honey_bee_colony_removal_from_structures.html

 

 

 

 


On Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 9:42 AM, Eric Day <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Genuine Extension Diagnostic Person here,  Please do forward questions from the tax paying public on to your state diagnostic labs and extension entomologist.  We keep links to good information and happily reply to questions from citizens about all insects. We see unusual insects all of the time, but to many of the general public, its a first time experience and should be treated as such.

Just my $0.02 worth,

Eric

Eric Day
Insect Identification Lab
Department of Entomology
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


On Sun, Apr 24, 2016 at 7:00 PM, Michael A. Ivie <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Putting up answers that include tongue-in-cheek humor and disrespectful comments is not going to help our image as serious hard working and important purveyors of knowledge. We all do this among ourselves, it is fun, but the clientele described as the target don't have a sense of humor.  If this is what one is inclined to do, punt the question off to someone trained to deal appropriately with terrified members of the public.  Since the point of Mike F.'s message was to refer people to a website, referring them to professional educators is a better option, taking Chris C.'s point of them not being happy about being referred away in the first place.

Or, alternatively, I agree with Lynn that a one-on-one discussion can be better.  If you are going to refer them to anything, don't do it to a funny website.

Mike I

On 4/24/2016 4:40 PM, Lynn Kimsey wrote:

Folks,

I find this conversation a bit troubling. One of the problems our community has is explaining to the public (and our administrators) why we should exist. Most of the public is woefully informed about science and biology in general and desperately need real information from a human being trained in entomology. Not some website that may or may not have been written by someone from Mars. I can't see why answering questions like this should be a problem, in fact I think its our responsibility if we are publicly funded.


Lynn


From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Christopher Carlton <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2016 3:33:27 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Scary Wasps and Stings
 

Oddly, in contrast to Mike I's opinions about the matter, the extension professionals here at LSU are directed to forward diagnostic requests to the Curator or to me, and I know it works that way elsewhere, though obviously not everywhere. And, yes, we do deal with worried members of the public who get stung or bitten by animals with jointed appendages, or think they have. The folks Mike F. is talking about don't take kindly to being referred to someone else for administrative reasons. This feeds their darkest suspicions about lazy college professors and their minions. I can see his point in attempting to consolidate useful information into one place for fast and easy knowledge transfer, which people do take kindly to. 


Purely curatorial positions at land grant institutions are uncommon. More often they include diagnostic responsibilities. Certainly, diagnostics and dealing with the public is a substantial part of my job that that of our Curator. We are not extension, but we are professionals. 


Chris Carlton, Ph. D.

Benjamin Holton Professor of Agriculture 

Director, Louisiana State Arthropod Museum

President, Coleopterists Society

Department of Entomology, LSB-404

110 Union Sq., Baton Rouge, LA 70803-1710

 

www.lsuinsects.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Louisiana-State-Arthropod-Museum/138001816222246?ref=ts




From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Michael A. Ivie <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2016 3:27 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Scary Wasps and Stings
 
Mike,

I strongly agree with Lu on this -- you are at a land grant university with an extension program employing professionals to deal with the public.  Let the professionals deal with this.  These wackos are not going to enjoy what they will see as your condescension, cute jabs, and dismissive remarks, as much as we in the in-group do.  In their minds they are fully engaged as dedicated parents defending their offspring from death and disfigurement, and you are being inappropriate.  They will be neither amused nor educated.  Plus, your treatment of allergic response could be a problem, past lack of allergic response is not a predictor of future reactions.  All you need is one problem to bring a crazy lawyer down on your head.  Since there are professionals already at Clemson paid to do this stuff, not passing inquiries to them means something (pick any unfinished curatorial task, there are always unfinished curatorial tasks) that you really need to get done is being neglected while extension work is being duplicated unnecessarily.

Mike

On 4/24/2016 4:08 AM, Musetti, Luciana wrote:
I refer every such request to OSU Extension Entomology. 

Luciana Musetti, PhD | Curator
[log in to unmask] | go.osu.edu/osu-insects
The Ohio State University | Triplehorn Insect Collection | 1315 Kinnear Road, Columbus, OH 43212-1157 | Office 614-292-2730 | Fax 614-292-7774 

On Apr 23, 2016, at 7:03 PM, Mike Ferro <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I just got a frantic email from distraught parents begging for an identification of a monster they just discovered in their lawn that is certain to be the death of their precious doe-eyed child. They were desperate to know: What is it and how do we murder it?

 

We all get these emails, but do you guys have a standard (prewritten, copy and paste) response concerning stinging insects, or do you provide a custom answer every time?

 

I'm putting together a rough draft of a standard statement about stinging insects that I would include with (or within) stinging insect ID requests. I've included it below. Any thoughts/ideas?

 

Thanks,

 

Mike

 

----

 

Scared of getting stung by a bee or wasp?

 

Visit the links below for information and advice. The following is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

 

Background Information:

Only female insects can sting. Stinging is expensive and dangerous for the insect (they only have so much venom, and don't want to get close to you), she doesn't "want" to sting you. Insects only sting when they feel threatened. If you get stung you may have accidentally gotten too close to a nest or accidentally brushed against her.

 

Are you "Allergic"?

A lot of people say they are "Allergic" to bee and wasp stings. What kind of reaction do you have?

 

Systemic, Allergic, Life Threatening: About 2 out of 1000 people are allergic (hypersensitive) to bee/wasp/scorpion stings (http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=11067&page=1 , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaphylaxis). For these people a bee sting can be life threatening. A severe reaction includes vomiting, shortness of breath/inability to breath, stomach cramps, unconsciousness, etc. Allergic people may have a major reaction to pretty much ANY sting, whether from a giant scary wasp, a boring little ant, or a helpful honey bee.

 

Local Reactions: For most of us the sting hurts, we experience local swelling (e.g., a few inches around the sting, half an arm, etc.), redness, etc. Generally the swelling subsides in a few minutes to hours and the pain goes away. Amazingly, the average person (adult or child) could tolerate more than 100 bee stings and not die (but it wouldn't be fun, either!).

 

Fun fact: There is an entomologist who created a sting pain index by letting things sting him and then rating the pain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schmidt_sting_pain_index). He just wrote a book, The Sting of the Wild (http://amzn.com/1421419289).

 

In my experience getting stung is 1) a rare event, 2) not fun, 3) but not the end of the world, 4) helps place minor aches and pains in perspective, and 5) results in an important increase in awareness of one's surroundings.

 

Good sites to get more information about insect stings:

https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/biol_hazards/bees_wasps.html

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/insects/

http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=11067

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_sting


--
Michael L. Ferro
Collection Manager, Clemson University Arthropod Collection (CUAC)
Dept. of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
MAIL: 277 Poole Agricultural Center
OFFICE: 307 Long Hall
Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0310
Subject Editor: The Coleopterists Bulletin; Insecta Mundi

-- 
__________________________________________________

Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

US Post Office Address:
Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50      
1911 West Lincoln Street
Montana State University                
Bozeman, MT 59717
USA  

UPS, FedEx, DHL Address:
Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50      
1911 West Lincoln Street
Montana State University                
Bozeman, MT 59718
USA  


(406) 994-4610 (voice)
(406) 994-6029 (FAX)
[log in to unmask] 

-- 
__________________________________________________

Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

US Post Office Address:
Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50      
1911 West Lincoln Street
Montana State University                
Bozeman, MT 59717
USA  

UPS, FedEx, DHL Address:
Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50      
1911 West Lincoln Street
Montana State University                
Bozeman, MT 59718
USA  


(406) 994-4610 (voice)
(406) 994-6029 (FAX)
[log in to unmask] 




--
Michael L. Ferro
Collection Manager, Clemson University Arthropod Collection (CUAC)
Dept. of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
MAIL: 277 Poole Agricultural Center
OFFICE: 307 Long Hall
Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0310
Subject Editor: The Coleopterists Bulletin; Insecta Mundi

-- 
__________________________________________________

Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

US Post Office Address:
Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50      
1911 West Lincoln Street
Montana State University                
Bozeman, MT 59717
USA  

UPS, FedEx, DHL Address:
Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50      
1911 West Lincoln Street
Montana State University                
Bozeman, MT 59718
USA  


(406) 994-4610 (voice)
(406) 994-6029 (FAX)
[log in to unmask]