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.
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.
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.
But remember, it’s all fun and photos until someone pisses off the wasps.
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.]
- 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
- elevating the area that was stung to control swelling.
- 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)
- 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
- keep it clean – it might take up to 5 days to fully heal and even a small puncture like a sting can get infected.