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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yellow Jacket Attack

I'm taking a powder today, guys. Yesterday, I got stung by yellow jackets. The pain isn't as intense as yesterday, but I still feel bad.

Since I'd never been stung by yellow jackets before, I thought I'd share some of the information I learned.

Yellow jackets look very similar to honey bees. But they are far more vicious. I've spent many days gardening, surrounded by honey bees and have never been attacked.

Yellow jackets are territorial and will attack without provocation. Unlike bees, they do not lose their stinger and can sting you several times. 

I was dragging brush to a burn pile when I walked near their nest inside a bunch of old logs. I thought at first ants had nailed me, but the pain kept growing---and spreading.

The whole time I walked very fast, back to the house that was several hundred yards away. (No running, since the terrain was too rugged.) Before I reached the back yard, I had torn off my t-shirt and found a yellow jacket tangled inside. As my final act of retribution, I smashed him. 

I'm pretty sure he gave me the finger anyway.

Treatment: I've been stung by both black bumblebees and wasps but the pain and swelling subsided the same day. Not so with yellow jackets.

Yellow jackets and most wasps have alkaline venom requiring something acidic to cut the pain. Vinegar, lemons or limes will do the trick.

Bees have acidic venom which requires a base. Make a mud of baking soda and water and plaster the affected area. 

Several sites I checked mixed the two up, so I stuck to the information from clinical sites that broke down each insect's biochemistry. Dry data, but this site is the most readable.

I took Benedryl but other than make me sleepy, did not help with the pain or swelling. I imagine I just have to live with it until it wears off.

It probably wouldn't have been so bad if there weren't three stings. I'm okay. Just in a bit of pain.

I could use some company in my misery. Anyone ever get stung by wasps or other insidious creature?


Angela Brown said...

I hope the pain subsides away to a dull memory very soon.

I haven't been stung by a yellow jacket, but I did have the displeasure of accidentally running over a fire ant mound- back in the day when I had both a husband and backyard - and those ants didn't take that mistake too well. They took to my ankle like devil hounds. No fun at all.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: You can't live in Texas and not become intimate with fire ants at some point in your life.

They're called FIRE ants for a reason. They burn like a son-of-a-gun!

Benadryl has helped me with fire ants.

Marianne Arkins said...

Ice helps with the pain ... it'll hurt again when you stop icing, but it really gave me relief when I was stung three times on my ankle this summer. I've been stung by wasps, bumblebees, and honey bees and nothing hurts as bad as a yellow jacket sting, or lasts as long. As I mentioned yesterday, they are pure evil -- especially since they sting without any provocation.

Hang in there.

Mike Keyton said...

Pleasure is the absence of pain. Look forward to it, Maria, and commiserations.

I did have a near escape with a wasp nest once. They'd take up residence in my gooseberry bush. I had the bright idea of smashing their nest with a long stick and briskly walking away.

My first thwack wasn't hard enough but several angry wasp 'scouts' surfaced. Luckily I was already behind a bush and running up the steps under cover.

When the scouts returned to their nests I tried again, with a more substantial thwack. A whole horde flew out and I barely made the house in time. Bernadette wasn't amused and we called the exterminator.

L.G.Smith said...

It's crazy how much those little buggers can cause pain. I've been stung by a honeybee and by a yellow jacket before. Don't want to repeat either. Fortunately I'm not allergic. My sister is, and is deadly afraid of all things with wings and stingers.

Hope you feel better soon.

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: I am learning that the hard way. I got a better count now that the swelling has gone down a little, and there are four sting sites.

You know, there are some life lessons I'd rather not learn.

I'm hoping mine doesn't last as long as yours did. I can't imagine dealing with this all week.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: Ref: thwacking
Are you insane? Or did you already get that lecture from Bernadette?

Over here we have chemicals. It is the only time I will resort to chemical warfare. I don't want to get that close to anything with a stinger.

Maria Zannini said...

LG: I don't think I'm allergic either, but it still hurts like the dickens.

One of my brothers is very allergic though and had to be taken to the emergency room. It's nothing that should be taken lightly.

R. Mac Wheeler said...

Insidious creature...

Can I include an ex wife in that category?

LD Masterson said...

Major ouchies. You have some very unfriendly cohabitants on your homestead.

I've been bitten by bees and wasps but, thankfully, never had a run in with yellow jackets. Got nailed by a snake once. My fault. I was by the lake where I wasn't supposed to be and I stepped on him. Never could decide which was worse - the bite or all shots they gave me after (to counter the venom).

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Yellow jackets are dangerous. My younger brother and my father have both spent time in the hospital from being attacked by them. Hope you feel better.

E.J. Wesley said...

Ugh, how miserable! Those devils pack a punch. Haven't been stung by one since childhood, but they hurt enough I remember it.

Be sure to take precautions should you be stung again, they are known for causing severe reactions (even if you aren't prone to bug-bite reactions) with successive stings. (This time they swell, next time your airway restricts, etc.)

I'd have smashed him, too, and maybe have taken out his nest-mates to boot. :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: That depends on how long the sting lasted after the divorce. ;-)


Linda: Ref: snake bit?
Knock on wood, I have not been snake bit...yet. You'll have to tell me that story in depth.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I wish I'd had some warning. Greg disturbed a nest on the ground with his tractor once, but since they're attracted to movement, he stayed still while the hornets attacked his spinning tractor wheels. It was a close call.


EJ: We were at the furthest reaches of our property where we rarely go. I should've been more aware in unknown territory.

Ref: ...successive stings.
I didn't realize future stings could cause stronger reactions. Yikes. This episode was bad enough.

Greg destroyed the rest of them. We checked the nest later that day and not a single one came out.

Jenny Schwartz said...

That sounds miserable. Lots of sympathy. My minor bee and wasp stings sound pitiful in comparison. Stepping on dead jellyfish stingers at the beach isn't fun either.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I'm allergic to bee stings, so they make me swell madly. A tiny bee once stung me on the hand, and my arm swelled to the elbow. My mom wrapped my hand in ice, and it still swelled until my fingers turned purple.

I don't know if I'm allergic to wasps, but when one stung me on the cheek, my face puffed up so bad, my eye swelled shut.

I've never been stung multiple times at once, but I imagine that if I did, I'd have to go to the emergency room.

Darke Conteur said...

I was stung by one of those when Sithboy was about 2. I was making his lunch and brought it into the livingroom. When I sat down I felt something on my neck. I thought it was just my ponytail so I brushed my neck...and he got me. I swatted at him and he fell onto the couch between the armrest and my leg and got me again. My neck wasn't bad, but I have a small scar on my leg. And yes, it hurt. I don't know if it damaged the muscle in my leg or what, but I hobbled around for a few days.

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: I've always tread carefully on the beach. I'm usually more afraid for the dogs than me. I'm a big believer that if something can sting you--it will.


Barbara: That has got to be scary. My brother has to keep epinephrin with him because he's allergic too. But he lives in the city and a colder climate so he doesn't worry about it much.

The next time you see your doc, you might want to mention it, just to have on hand.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: It hurts like hell. Most of the pain has subsided now, but one of the bites still stings a bit.

Thank goodness it didn't get Sithboy. Children have got to be more vulnerable, I'm sure.

Angelina Rain said...

Yikes! Sounds painful. I've never been stung by anything and don't plan to be. *knocking on wood*

Jackie Burris said...

Yellow Jackets got me in the top of my head when a teenager, golf ball sized knots for the rest of the day and that is all I remember as far as reactions. Maria staying still did not help as the insects swarmed me and 2 of them stung my head while I just stood there. Lucky me when I ran in the house the rest did not give chase.

I do remember we had some anti-venom ampules that my Dad's employer had issued him with his first aid kit. They were plastic with a glass stopper you crushed and the medicine then released through a cotton swabber and you just dribbled it onto the sting site and it took care of the pain quickly. No idea what it was or the name but Dad got stung for years while out in the field reading Electric Meters and he used the stuff a often.
Hope today you feel better.

Sarah Ahiers said...

we have a yellow jacket nest in our flower garden on periodic years. We found it when we moved in and Twin and my mom were doing some weeding and both got tagged. Twin got stung on the eyebrow and looked like sloth from The Goonies for a few days.
We generally leave them alone since they pollinate everything, but last fall we needed to do some heavy weeding, so once they all died we tore up their nest and they haven't been back

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: I strongly recommend avoiding stings. LOL. I feel like a pin cushion right now.


Jackie: I remember hearing how linemen and meter readers were regularly given first aid kits and some even got poison ivy shots in case they got into it. Not sure I could do a job that kept me in constant peril. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: I generally have a live and let live attitude (except for scorpions). But the yellow jackets were new to me. I'd never seen so aggressive an insect especially since I never got near the nest.

I'm wary now.

PS I can't believe you call your twin a sloth. LOL!