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Wasp Infestation Stings Start of School

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Wasp Infestation Stings Start of School

By Divitya Vakil, News Editor

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At Niles West, it’s common for the first few weeks of school to be relatively laid-back. When the weather is nice, as it usually is in the first month or so, the courtyard is open for students to eat outside during all lunch periods. However, this year, there seems to be an elevated wasp count, which restricts students to the cafeteria, despite summer weather sticking around.

Assistant Principal of Operations Mark Rigby explained that the district is already taking action to eradicate a majority of the “Cicada Killers,” the type of wasp found around the school.

“We’ve called in pesticide people to treat them. Last year we got rid of them a lot quicker, but for some reason this year they keep coming back,” Rigby said. “They should be gone soon. Hopefully we can open up the courtyard as soon as possible, not only for lunch periods but also for Gardening Club.”

Gardening Club is only one of the many clubs at Niles West. In fact, the annual Activities Fair, where students can sign up for various clubs and activities, was originally planned to be held outside. However, the wasp situation is impeding this.

Not only has the increased number of wasps restricted student and event locations, but it has impacted some sports teams, particularly cross country. Junior Noor Mah Ayub was stung unexpectedly at practice, which led her to having to go to the Training Office to seek medical attention.

“I think this is a very serious situation,” Ayub said. “In seconds a wasp leaves a mark on you, [and you have] no time to process how to react or what to do. This situation needs to be controlled because a little sting can lead to many big problems or health issues.”

While stings may just seem like a nuisance to some, to others it could be the difference between life and death. Around 2 million Americans have an allergy to insect stings, which can lead an individual to anaphylactic shock by just coming in contact with a stinger.

“If someone has a sting, from what I observed [from a Niles West Athletic Trainer], we would just ice it,” senior Larriane Astete said. “Of course, if they had an allergic reaction we would treat it with an EpiPen and hopefully they wouldn’t go into [anaphylactic] shock.”

The school is trying to clear the wasps out as soon as possible, but the weather might not be in sync, as temperatures are already starting to dip. Since the species recurs annually, they will most likely not interfere when spring comes around.

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