Wasps

“Assholes with wings” as Dusty Craig styles them

Created by author using DALL·E — “three horrific wasps in photorealistic style”

Deb, my wife, is in fear of stinging things (all lumped under the category of “bees”) after bad experiences in her youth. So I get to be the one to chase after bees/wasps/hornets as needed, which feeds my (admittedly limited) macho white knight complex, because I have not ever been stung.

Or have I? There have been times when I suddenly feel a sharp pain for no particular reason. Maybe I’ve been stung without realizing it was a sting? Some people are very sensitive to stings, but maybe me, not so much. Maybe stings are just no big deal for me?

We have had wasp colonies around the homestead at various times. So far they’ve been the kind that set up under the eaves or the kind that burrow in the dirt. The ground wasps are the sneakiest, since they can be hard to spot, but usually they are active enough (both with number of bodies and disturbance in the mulch) that we’ve noticed them ahead of time. To be really concealed, they’d have to be hidden by brush. Or heavy weeds.

Like the kind I was pulling the other day in our front yard.

I heard the buzzing first, and flipped my head sharply to scare off whatever it was. Then I looked down and saw a wasp on my left hand, crawling and then pausing and then

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD PAIN PAIN PAIN NOW RIGHT HAND TOO SHIT OW PAIN RIGHT EAR PAIN PAIN PAINPAINPAIN SHIT OW PAIN MOVE MOVE AWAY MOVE PAIN SHIT OW PAIN MOVE PAIN INSIDE NOW!

So then I was inside the house. Did I mention the pain? Somewhat intense. Both hands, right ear.

I had never, it turns out, been stung before.

Also, I was the only one home, and I had no idea what to do for a sting, so I asked the first one I thought of who knew stuff.

“HEY SIRI WHAT DO I DO AFTER I HAVE BEEN STUNG?”

Okay, I can work with that. Ice. We have ice. But I’m supposed to get the stinger out? I don’t see a stinger! Do wasps have stingers?

“HEY SIRI, DO WASPS LEAVE STINGERS IN?”

No. You could have just said, “No, they don’t.” Simple binary question, easy answer. I don’t see why —

Ice! Found ice! Ice on the hands. Good ice. Ice on the ear. No. Can’t put ice on the hands and the ear. Crap.

Ibuprofen. Good. Take one. No effect. Take another one. Where’s the ice? Good ice. Ice and drugs. Ice and drugs are the answer BUT SHIT MY EAR HURTS! Neosporin. Topical anesthetic. Medicine cabinet. Got it. Dab on hands. Dab on ear. Wait, find mirror. OH MY GOD MY EAR IS BRIGHT RED LIKE IT’S BEEN BURNED IT’S ON FIRE — oh wait, the other ear looks the same. My ears get red when I get excited. How did I not know this before? What other things has my wife not been sharing with me over the years?

I checked the actual sting sites. Slight annular puffiness, little holes in the middle, no blood. The pain was already receding.

By night time, the pain was gone, most of the puffiness was gone, there was no tenderness. And my ears looked normal (both of them).

A day later, I couldn’t even tell where the stings had been.¹ Although on my right hand I found a nasty abrasion, like I scraped the back of my hand on something. Apparently I was nuts with pain, so much so I abraded skin while flailing around without noticing at the time.

What have I learned from this?

  1. I previously had not been stung. Now I have been. Check that one off.
  2. I am not allergic to wasp stings. So I still get to be the one who goes after the stinging intruders and takes one for the team, if needed.
  3. It may be that for large masses of weeds, weed killer is our friend. “Take off and nuke the entire site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure” was good enough for Ripley, right?

¹DEB: This is because you treated it right away. To be honest, if you — sorry, you and Siri, didn’t mean to leave out the brains of the operation — hadn’t acted quickly, the stings would have hurt a LOT longer. Trust me.

An earlier version was published August 20, 2016. I did some editing in anticipation of submitting this to Hinged, but things got away from me and I missed the deadline (sorry, Aura!).

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Jack Herlocker

Jack Herlocker

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Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.