Bug bites, snake bites, and other sudden surprises

Not long ago, I was feeding my horses in an outside stall and a sheet of hay fell to the ground. I bent down to pick it up, and suddenly yellow jackets appeared from under the manger and started poking me on the left side of my face.

Let me tell you folks, that will wake you up right away! A yellow jacket even hit me near my left eye. When I looked in the mirror the next morning, with only my right eye available, it was not a pretty sight at all. The left side of my face was swollen, the left eye was closed and everything would stay that way for a couple of days.

What bit me were the little eastern yellow jackets, which are not much bigger than a house fly. But, despite their diminutive size, they sure can pack a punch. My wife, Ginny, walked up to a very well hidden nest on our deck two summers ago and she received multiple bites on her legs from the little critters, she had a reaction and was soon headed to the ER.

Since I spend a lot of time outdoors, getting stung from time to time (more times than I’d like to count) seems to be my lot in life, and so far, I’ve only been getting bitten.

The bees can only sting you once, and they soon die after the barbed stinger is ripped from their abdomen. But the rest, including hornets, wasps and bumblebees, none of which have barbed stingers, can continue to sting.

I will never forget when I was driving down a back road and a hornet flew through the open window of my truck, hit me under the chin, landed inside my shirt and started to sting. It didn’t take long for me to hit the brakes and rip my shirt off! The hornets are tough, because I hit them pretty hard when it was crawling under my shirt, but it still managed to fly away unscathed.

I’ll also never forget when I bent down to pull up some low grass near a step, and something came out of nowhere and landed directly on the back of my hand. This, of course, caused some rather instinctive reflexes on my part, including, I guess, an unmanly squeal. I’ve been to wild places where reflections (and screaming) aren’t always a bad thing.