Sunday, 30 September 2012


(Tsk, I was intending to write another post about mantids, but then this happened. Oh, well.)

Yesterday, on National Public Lands Day, I went to Dabbs Creek in southern Missouri to be a part of a GLADE-related work project involving picking up trash in the area and making a brush pile to prevent people from going into a sometimes-restricted area. The details of this work project, though they are important, are not the subject of this post whatsoever. Instead, I shall be talking about lunch.

For lunch at ~11:30, we had some great vegan chili (the GLADE director who caused this project is vegan, and I am vegetarian) with blueberry cornbread and chips. During this lunch, a yellow jacket wasp was flying around and eventually landed inside someone's bowl of chili. As the official Insect Whisperer™, I was tasked with peacefully removing the wasp from this person's chili. Thus, I poked  my naked fingers into the bowl and waited for the wasp to climb upon them. (Insect Whispering is really simple). It did. In doing so, my fingers picked up some traces of chili that kept the wasp occupied for a while. I stared (as usual) as the insect chewed on chili juices on my finger, no stinging necessary. I picked up a larger chunk of pseudo-meat and put it also on my finger, and the wasp was soon attracted to that. Soon, a fly came by and ate from the pseudo-meat on the opposite side from the wasp! It felt like one of those pictures with a black hand and a white hand shaking hands to symbolize peace and friendship between the human skin colors, except it was a pair of different insect species sharing a piece of food. So, yet again, I had a meal with insects. A very interesting lunch, this was. The wasp and fly flew away before the pseudo-meat was finished, though. When I intentionally put some chili juice on there later, the wasp returned and, while sometimes consuming, regurgitated some juices and rolled them into a couple of balls, one of which it left behind on my thumb, while the other was taken away.

When we were finished with the work project a couple hours later and had returned to the 'home base' where all the vehicles and equipment and stuff were, another yellow jacket came by and was flying around our heads while people were talking about things. Mostly, it was hovering around just my head (hoping for some more chili?) and occasionally landing on me. At some point, I felt something crawling and tickling on the right side of my neck; reflexively, I nodded my head to the right. Soon after I did so, I felt a sudden, sharp sense of irony, and the wasp flew off. Apparently, by nodding my head, the folds on my neck skin against my shoulder started to squish the wasp that had landed there, which drove the wasp to sting me in self-defense.

It has been a long time since I was last (and first) stung. Sometime when I was 3-4 years old, I was at some sort of family picnic or party or something at a park, with park tables/benches. As I was walking between two of these tables, a large black bee was flying towards me from the other side. We collided, and the bee stung me on my right cheek. IT HURT. WAAAAH. Afterwards, I was treated and, after a few days, became a healthy little boy again who would soon go on to be fascinated by invertebrates like the one that stabbed and envenomed him.

Anyway, back to yesterday's sting: For the first few seconds, we were not certain of whether it was a sting or just a bite, but it was soon apparent as the sharp feeling persisted. According to the other people with a better vantage point than mine, there was a tiny red mark surrounded by white swelling in a general area of redness, if I recall correctly. In that spot, and within a very small radius from it, there was a sharp, but tolerably intense pain left by the venom. To treat it, I was given a small plastic tube filled with a viscous green liquid and with some sort of cotton swab stuck in the hole in one end of it, which I would hold on the stung spot so the liquid would lessen the pain quicker. Since I never got any throat or tongue swelling, it seems that I am not allergic at all. Within an hour, I had almost completely recovered from the pain, although there is still a slight mark and occasional itchiness like a mosquito bite.

I learned a few important things from this:
-What a yellow jacket sting feels like. (One is not that bad, apparently, but it certainly does hurt).
-I am not currently allergic to yellow jacket wasp stings.
-If ever I feel something crawling on my neck like that, I must fight the urge to use my neck and shoulder like a vise and instead use my hands, gently, or wait until it leaves.

In other news, I brought home a souvenir: a stick to which a rather large silken cocoon is attached! It is approximately 9 cm long (parallel to stick) and extends to 4 cm wide (perpendicular to stick). A small hole pointing downwards grants me a glimpse into its empty innards, so bringing it home should not be harmful.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog entry, Insect Whisperer! I can vouch that all you wrote is indeed true and accurate- you wouldn't have it any other way. I enjoyed the day with you and the other GLADErs and we accomplished some good work. Looking forward to seeing you in November. cp