Don’t Piss Off The Wasps

Living in peaceful cohabitation with wasps is all fine and good until you sit down on your deck for your morning coffee and lean on one. Then things get real.  Benadryl real.

Troublesome Neighbours

Wasps and I have had a peaceful co-existence. We’ve even had a nice symbioses at times.  In Grade 4 when I went outside for recess in late spring,  I’d be surrounded by them before I got 20 feet outside the school doors, and they would stay with me until I went back into the school. Kind of like Pig Pen in Peanuts, but wasps instead of dirt. They never stung me, or even bothered me, and they did keep the bullies at bay.

For most of my life I’ve only been stung when someone freaked out, flails around near me and swats one into me. The first time was my grandmother backhanding one into my forehead… I was 8.  Since then this has happened to me more times than I can count. (Small favour – please don’t flail or wave your hands when you see stinging insects, you are just promoting second-hand stinging.)

These days, wasps are occasional al fresco dining companions and I’ll sometimes even share my drink or meal with them.   If they are bugging me too much I’ve found that blowing on them gently will usually get them to go away without any major problem for either of us.

My Personal Food Taster

So when I get stung, I know I’ve done something wrong.

The most dramatic was when I was on the island at the beach and decided to jump in the river. I had been sunning myself so my bathing suit top was pulled down.   I snapped it back up and jumped in the very cold water and swam around for a couple of minutes.  Then I stood up and realized there was a pinching sensation on my breast.  Turns out a yellowjacket got snapped up INSIDE my bathing suit top and had been “swimming” with me.  Stinging me repeatedly the whole time.

Not fun for me. Not fun for her. Not fun for my Dad and friend Di who hustled me up to the house, fed me benadryl, and tended me when I started shaking and shivering from shock. Whee!

The last time I was at a friend’s cottage, taking down her gazebo when I found a very large black and white wasp (likely a bald-faced hornet).  I used my standard technique of getting a wasp to go away – blow on it gently.  But whether I pissed her off by doing it a lot, or because I was chewing a breath-freshening gum, either way I’ll never know.  However I can tell you she was not happy with me and stung me on my chest right over my heart.   I did not react well.  Literally. I had some Benadryl immediately, but the 4 hour ride back from the cottage was not fun. And the dinner plate sized discolouration and swelling lasted a couple of day.  Whee!

This summer we’ve been dealing with a wasp infestations on our deck.  It hasn’t phased me much, since they’ve mainly kept to themselves and so have we.

Troublesome Neighbours

So we’ll see what this morning’s sting will bring.  Luckily the sting is on the back of my arm, just above my elbow.  Or as my father would say “far from the heart”.
The sting is on the other side! Argh

But remember, it’s all fun and photos until someone pisses off the wasps.

Troublesome Neighbours

Tips for Dealing With a Wasp Sting

[NOTE: I am not a medical doctor, so this is a “casual” list.  These are for someone who does not have an allergy, a history of severe allergy symptoms or showing severe allergy symptoms.]

  1. treat the symptoms
    • benadryl is great for dealing with minor swelling and itching associated a mild allergy reaction  (big swelling get to a doctor)
    • aspirin or advil for pain
    • not into drugs – calamine or a mixture of baking soda and water will help the itchiness
  2. elevating the area that was stung to control swelling.
  3. remove the stinger, if it’s still in the sting, by scraping or using tweezers to remove it. (don’t squeeze, it could inject more venom)
  4. watch for severe reactions.  Allergies change and today’s sting might be very different than the last one!  Keep an eye on the symptoms. Any of the following and you should get to the hospital and/or call 911
    • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
    • Tightness in the throat or a feeling that the airways are closing
    • Hoarseness or trouble speaking
    • Nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting
    • Fast heartbeat or pulse
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Anxiety or dizziness
    • Major swelling
  5. keep it clean – it might take up to 5 days to fully heal and even a small puncture like a sting can get infected.

18 thoughts on “Don’t Piss Off The Wasps

  • August 12, 2013 at 12:34 pm
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    We have a cheap, non-toxic, extremely effective wasp/yellow jacket solution that is working wonders up here at the PostCard. On the downside, the critters do die. On the upside, it seems to completely take care of the infestation within a matter of days. No more wasps. Sort of like your mosquito solution that you posted early in the summer. Message me if you want to know more. I hope you are recovering 🙂

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  • August 12, 2013 at 12:37 pm
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    I’ve added some tips to dealing with a sting into the post too.

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  • August 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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    alexaclark Those fake wasp nests worked for us in TO. Wasps are territorial and seeing another nest keeps them from building nearby.

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  • August 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm
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    Hive removing man pointed out to me that wasps—especially those mean tempered bald-faced buggers–inject a pheromone with their sting, that tells their mates to sting you in the same spot that they marked with their sting. Hurts more the second third and forth times—it was my scalp!

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  • August 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm
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    Jo_in_TO Thanks JoAnne, we’ll check those out for sure. (After we get rid of the existing nexts inside the wall …eep!)

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  • August 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm
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    camaraderie beegrrlTO Thanks for the RT guys.

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  • August 12, 2013 at 3:52 pm
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    PostCard Liz Thanks Liz!  I would like your extremely effective solution (as I’m sure others reading this might as well.)  As you know we’d much prefer the critters not die, but at this point it might be best all around. I’ll msg you tomorrow and thanks – recovering well!

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  • August 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm
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    and our month-long experiment in coexistence with the hornets comes to it’s anticipated conclusion.
    i thought it would be me that would have a run-in with the hornets, as they become much more active when i’m around, versus Alexa.
    we did end up using Benedryll in both it’s ingestible and spray-on form, as well as ice.

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  • August 13, 2013 at 11:33 am
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    Thanks JoAnne Wang we’ll check that out for sure.

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  • August 13, 2013 at 11:34 am
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    Bonnie Massey Y’ouch! Scalp stings are AWEFUL! Luckily the yellow jackets don’t really swarm or I’d be a bigger mess than I am. Still fighting the 8″ swelling all around the sting. whee….

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  • August 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm
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    Glad you’re recovering well, Lex. I’ve had some nests (usually paper nest builders) that I’ve waited until mid-winter to remove (or had hubby remove when they were in their embryonic phase). Haven’t been stung in a number of years. Thanks for the tips about benedryl etc.

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  • August 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm
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    PatAnderson I’ve removed many a paper-wasp’s nest myself, usually on a cold night or in the evening.  But these ones are nicely nestled under the shingles (not below, but literally under the roofing.) It’s going to be a pretty big job to deal with this and I suspect will involve professionals.  And given my recent reaction, me not being anywhere nearby.

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  • August 17, 2013 at 11:06 am
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    Quick update – the swelling is almost gone and I’m finally feeling “normal” again so I’ve stopped taking the meds. That was not fun.

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  • August 17, 2013 at 11:24 am
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    Great photo.

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  • October 13, 2013 at 11:15 am
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    In my experience–if they want to sting you–you cannot even see them coming….the searing pain being your first awareness of their presence. This kind of intimate close encounter probably amounts to something like peace talks!

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  • October 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm
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    Wasps don’t bite, unless aroused … they only sneer at we inferior people …

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