Mow your lawn, you enrage the yellow jackets. Weed your garden, you annoy the honey bees. Clean your attic, you upset the wasps.
In fact, it doesn't matter what you do in the summer, sooner or later you're going to become the enemy of a stinging or bitting insect.
While there is nothing funny about being stung by a winged creature - it is not for nothing that certain unpleasant persons are referred to as waspish - the reality of a sting does not warrant the fear many of us harbor from our childhoods.
For about 99.2 percent of us, a sting brings nothing more than temporary pain, redness and swelling.
According to Dr. Lawrence M. Lichtenstein, a professor of medicine at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University Medical School, of all the flying insects, wasps are gifted with the most painful sting. Next on the unpleasantness scale come honey bees, followed by yellow jackets, he says.
When stung by a honey bee, the first thing you have to worry about is removing the stinger, which the bee rudely leaves behind when he stings.
Dr. Martin Valentine, a colleague of Lichtenstein's at Johns Hopkins, says many of the old home remedies are effective in removing the stinger and helping to sooth the sting.
Household ammonia, baking soda or anything slightly alkaline is "slightly helpful," says Valentine. "What you're left with is trying to reduce a local reaction. Try putting ice on it," he recommends.
Also helpful in dealing with the pain and swelling are aspirin and aspirin products, according to Valentine, who, like Lichtenstein, is an allergist.
Another thing that is said to help counteract the effects of a sting is an antihistamine. Valentine recommends Chlotrimeton, which he and many physicians claim is the best of the over-the-counter antihistamines.
Those other airborne plagues of summer, the mosquitoes, gnats, black flies and deer flies, want to eat you rather than sting you. They bite in order to suck blood, which does not make an encounter with them any more pleasurable than with a stinging insect.
According to Valentine, there are very, very few of us who have serious allergies involving the biting insects.
Some people experience a good deal of swelling and tenderness around the area of a bite, and occasionally a physician may need to use a derivative of cortisone, a hormone, for a few days to control the reaction, warns Valentine.
That is a far cry, though, from what the remaining 0.8 percent when stung by a bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket.
For that small percentage of the population, such a sting is life threatening. About 50 deaths a year are attributed to such stings, a figure Valentine says is an understatement. Additional sting deaths, he says, are probably wrongly attributed to heart attacks.
If you have ever been stung by one of the fearsome four and need to ask if you are one of the unlucky allergic persons among us, you are not.
Those suffering from any of these potentially fatal allergies experience such symptoms following a sting as having their breathing made difficult or impossible. Sometimes they go into convulsions. They may become comatose. It is not something one forgets.
One precaution such persons can take is that of carrying a prepackaged kit usually containing a dose of Adrenalin, an antihistamine and other items to combat the sting.
There is also good news from Drs. Lichtenstein and Valentine, who recently published findings of a seven-year study indicating that those who are allergic to stings can be almost completely protected from them with a series of injections containing the venom of the insect, or insects, to which they are allergic.
Lichtenstein says he expects the new treatment to be widely available by next summer. It is not cheap (a patient will probably pay $150 to $200 for a year's shots) and not a one-time thing (one will have to have the shots on a monthly basis for an indefinite number of years). But the shots will give a sufferer the peace of mind to roam the golf course or garden without constantly worrying about the proximity of a single honey bee.
For the past 50 years persons suffering from hypersensitivity to insect stings have been taking shots of something known as whole-body extract, a preparation of ground-up insect. Lichtenstein and his fellow researchers found, in clinical trials, that the whole-body extract provided no more protection against stings than totally useless placebos.
Speaking of that honey bee, there is one hing to remember that may make you feel just a bit better the next time one stings you: the sting may hurt you, but it kills the bee.