When the weather turns warm here in the South the wasps come out. Here in East Texas we have black wasps, black-winged red wasps, all-red red wasps, yellow and black guinea wasps (we call them yellow jackets), dirt daubers, cicada killers (hornets), bumblebees, wood borers, and honeybees. We’ve been blessed with quite a variety of stinging, flying insects, and I bet there are a few I haven’t even mentioned.
You’re mostly safe if you just leave them alone but sometimes paths cross and it can lead to a painful encounter. Such was the case when I was about six years old. It was a windy day at the Moseley house and Mama and us four kids were outside by the back door step. A red wasp landed in Mama’s hair and she shook her head to make it go away. She was holding my baby sister so that’s about all she could do. The wasp, angry as red wasps tend to be, saw me and decided–if a bug with only a wad of nerves for a brain can decide–to come after me.
“Run!” Mama cried, and I ran. I ran the length of the back of the house and turned the corner. That’s when I made the fateful decision to stop and turn around. That evil wasp popped me on the forehead and again on the thumb. I guess I tried to brush it off my forehead. I still have the scar where it punctured my forehead.
You see, the wind carries these insects where they don’t intend to fly, and I believe it makes them madder than usual. How would you feel if you were headed to Colorado on vacation and a big gust of wind carried you to New York instead? If there’s a reason to feel sorry for a wasp, then the fact that they have very little control over their destination in windy weather could be it.
I didn’t just get one wasp sting during my childhood. Oh no. I could count on getting at least one per summer. There’s the time I was riding my bicycle uphill on the blacktop road and my foot slipped off the pedal. As I dragged my leg, skinning my knee all the way down to the tops of my toes, my bike and I landed on the side of the road in a blackberry vine patch. If losing my top layer of skin wasn’t enough, I disturbed a wasp nest and suffered the consequences. I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to limp the 40 yards (which seemed like a million) back to the house where I thought I would surely die before Mama applied her baking soda paste on the stings and merthiolate on my wounds. I managed to survive.
Around here you have to check under porch swings, deck chairs, ride-on toys, kids’ swings, tractor fenders and seats, house eaves, propane tank lids, wheelbarrows, and outdoor grills before using them from spring through fall. I got popped a couple of years ago by an angry wasp because I dared reach over its hidden nest to turn the outdoor faucet off after watering plants.
Did I mention grabbing a loaf of bread in the grocery store and being rewarded by a honeybee sting in that tender skin between my thumb and forefinger? It hurt for literally HOURS. I was wearing a skirt and the silly thing tried to fly under it as well!
I will do everything in my power to keep from being stung, and when the grandkids are here, I will do even more. I don’t want to pass on to them my legacy of getting stung every summer. After all, for wasps and bees, this time of year is open season on humans. I won’t even mention the new scourge on mankind. . .murder hornets? Really?
What about you? Got a bee or wasp sting story?