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Friday the 13th: Got stung by a bald faced hornet a short time ago... Could have been alot worse.  RSS feed

 
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Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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So I was up a ladder with a chainsaw ( and not one of those little one armed saws that arborist's use-I wish I could afford all the proper tools! ), [ And, Caveat:  I don't recommend that people work with chainsaws up ladders until they have quite a bit of experience with saws and the particular saw, and how the saw can bounce off of things the wrong way and all that... be as safe as you can... et cetera ].  I was taking out some branches so that I could make an undercut to top the tree.  

It was more by luck than anything that I had not chosen to cut that one specific branch instead of others... or maybe it might have been better to have cut it as the branch and nest might have dropped to the side?  Who knows?  At any rate, chainsaw revving and cutting branches, I was whacked in the back of my left index finger, right through my glove.  The left hand in my case is the leading part of my body toward the nest.   It hurt bad enough, and probably startled me more, that I pretty much threw my chainsaw to the side, as I ran backwards down the ladder.  Then, as I looked up to see where all the swarming defensive activity was coming from, it was clear that I had just cut and hauled out the branch that was directly below this nest.  I'm lucky I was not stung multiple times.  

Here's a quote from the wiki on these very defensive and somewhat aggressive wasps:

Behavior,

Bald-faced hornets are omnivorous, and are considered to be beneficial due to their predation of flies, caterpillars, and spiders. However, their aggressively defensive nature makes them a threat to humans who wander too close to a nest or when a nest is constructed too close to human habitation. They vigorously defend the nest, with workers stinging repeatedly, as is common among social bees and wasps. However, the baldfaced hornet has a unique defense in that it can squirt venom from the stinger into the eyes of vertebrate nest intruders. The venom causes immediate watering of the eyes and temporary blindness.[6]  

  Here's the wikipedia link:  Bald Faced Hornet Info  

I'm speaking now from experience, from the experience of trusted friends, and from anecdotal/local lore information. Getting stung can lead to the workers continuing to gang up and sting, particularly if you are batting at them, or have killed one or having damaged the nest through your own blundering (super defensive), and these guys can sting multiple times, but they tend to let their buddies in on the action.  Getting stung once is not so bad.  It's worse than a yellow jacket, or a honey bee, or a ground wasp, but it's not so bad.  Once.  It's when you have multiple stings that your body's immune system starts to not be able to handle the load.  At this point the individual sting locations swell up more and then, if it progresses, your lymph system reacts with swelling nodes.  This can lead quite quickly to a severe allergic reaction which can then lead to Anaphylaxis.   This can shut your eyes, and it is also how your airway can close.  Anyway, I thought I'd give the heads up about these dudes.   If this is severe enough, anaphylatic shock can close your airway and kill you.  

I abandoned the project.

I walked over to my garden where the plantain is growing and found a nice mature plant, and, after thanking the plant for it's medicine, took one leaf, chewed it up, and put it on the rising welt.  Then I took another large leaf and wrapped it around my finger.    Then I came home to get a piece of string to tie the wrapping on, and now I'm writing to you all about it... taking a break.  The finger is feeling pretty good, considering.  I    think i will go take my chances picking raspberries.  :)
 
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That's the stuff nightmares are made of!  You are indeed lucky to have escaped with just a single sting.  Those are nasty critters with a short fuse. Long ago my uncle nearly died when he ran over a ground nest while haying.  He was allergic.  My husband is too so I worry about him.

A paste of baking soda and water also works well on stings.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Thanks for your reply Marci.  The back of my hand is now swelling.  I have a friend that has to carry a needle with him because of a severe reaction to multiple stings.  He had been hospitalized to reduce the initial swelling.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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The swelling is going up past my wrist now.  The bastard thing must have got me with more venom than I thought.  Just took one of my mom's Allergy relief pills.  
 
Marci Sudlow
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That's sort of how my hubby discovered he was allergic long ago.  Wasps had built a nest in the box that housed our electric fence charger, and when he opened the box to change the battery one got him on the thumb.  By the next day the swelling had reached his neck and he had to go to the emergency room.

I hope the allergy pills you took will take care of it.  I had been going to suggest benadryl.  Because if the swelling does continue to head upward toward your neck, you'll want to get medical attention and a shot of epinephrine.  Bastard things is right!  I have no love of these creatures!
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I've got a vinegar soaked cloth on the back of my hand. its supposed to help.  the swelling hasn't progressed up my arm.  I'll head to the hospital if I need to.  The reaction is way more pronounced than I've had in the past, but I may be dealing with other immune issues at the moment which may have compromised me.
 
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