yellow jacket head down
inside a solomon seal seed
eating the soft flesh
Five days ago I disturbed a yellow jacket wasp nest. Got stung twice. I was removing the remains of a rusted wheelbarrow left over from the construction of our house many years ago. The handles and tire had fallen off. I used a stick to dislodge the tire, stuck flat in the ground.
Suddenly I felt a sharp pain, right through the back of my thick cotton work glove. Then another, on the other hand. Automatically I hit whatever had stung me and saw two dead yellow jacket wasps still attached to my gloves. I ran for the house, trailing wasps. Inside, shaking, I pulled off my gloves. Felt something on the back of my shirt, so I peeled that off. Fortunately my husband was home and smashed that wasp.
First thing, took Rescue Remedy. Backs of both hands red and swollen. Dabbed on baking soda paste. Sat for 20 or 30 minutes with ice packs. Relief, but as soon as I took away the ice, the pain returned. Felt like a nerve had been stabbed, periodically shooting pain up my arm to my elbow. Disturbed sleep. Hands did not want anything touching them, like sheets or the mattress. Woke up unconsciously scratching the areas, which now itched like crazy. Not a good idea!
Next day, went to town for some homeopathic sting ointment. This helped with the pain and itching.Took five days for most of the pain and swelling to go down. Still a little raised red ring around both sting sites. It's Labor Day weekend. Some yellow jackets wasps are eating the ripe blue seeds of solomon seal just outside our front door. Lovely autumn weather but I'm mostly staying inside.
The yellow jacket workers and drones will die after the first frost, leaving the queen to overwinter in her nest in the ground. In the spring she will look for another site, abandoning her old nest. Leave it alone and they'll eventually go away.
Why did we leave that wheelbarrow around so long? Old junk seems to be a part of rural life. Hard to keep up with all the work. Long ago I lived on a farm in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Like many farmers, the previous owner had a private dump in a ravine away from the house. I was picking up the rusted cans, foolishly not wearing gloves, when I felt a sharp pain on the tip of my right index finger. Felt like my bone was on fire. I thought I'd been bitten by a rattlesnake. Back at the house, I couldn't talk, just pointed to my finger. My husband drove me into the little town of Eskridge, population 27, to the local doctor. Examining my finger, he said, "Well, I only see one mark. Might have gotten you with just one fang. But I think it's more likely a hornet sting."
Next year for sure I'm going to haul that old wheelbarrow off to the town dump.