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The Bug That Bugs Me

John W. Pinkerton


For most folks, insects are not really favorites among God’s creatures.  Ants spoil picnics, and, in recent years, red ants spoil much more; bees, although
a helpful creature in many ways, have become a threat to man and beast since they started hanging out with the African bees; ticks and fleas, although they mostly afflict our dogs and cats, can get totally out of hand.  Flies are a constant bother, but that’s about the extent of the trouble they cause.  Mosquitoes are probably the worst of this lot; they can keep us from sleeping with their buzzing, sting us causing whelps, and worst of all, can spread disease.
I have no particular animus toward any of these fellows; it’s the darn yellow jacket which gets my dander up.  I never paid much attention to the beasts until one summer while working in the heat, I stuck my hand under the top of my table saw to move it a few inches.  You would have thought I’d said something negative about their mother because the yellow jackets nesting there hit me three times before I could say, “Well…excuse me.”

At the moment I thought it was a little rude of them to sting me without even a howdy-doo, but I wasn’t concerned with their stings.  I had been stung before by various insects carrying sharp stingers with them and had simply shrugged them off.  I rubbed my hand and went right back to work.  About ten minutes later, I began to feel strange.  I thought it odd and decided a few minutes out of the heat wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I went into the air-conditioned house, sat down in my easy chair and began to feel stranger than before.  I was wondering how long Linda might be away from the house.  I decided I needed some fresh air and went to the front porch to sit on the steps.  When I opened the door, I realized my eyes were dilated and was blinded by the bright light.  I sat on the steps and clear fluid started poring from my nostrils.  I began to look around for help.  I could see a stranger about a block away mowing a lot.  I hesitated to seek help because I didn’t know what the heck was happening to me.  I sat there a few minutes and the draining subsided.  I went back in the house, sat in my easy chair and waited for Linda. 

When she walked in about twenty minutes later, she stared at me commenting, “You don’t look good.”  I, of course, told her about the yellow jacket stings, and she insisted that I needed to see a doctor.  Being that the doctor’s office was only about a half block away, this was no problem.  After a quick consultation with a new doctor who had replaced old Doc Pazdral, he gave me some Benadryl and told me I should be fine.

That evening the hand began to swell, then the wrist, the forearm, the bicep, the shoulder; I was becoming a little concerned.  The next morning with my arm sticking out from my body at a strange angle, I asked the doc if this arrangement seemed normal to him.  He immediately apologized and gave me a shot that dissipated the swelling.  I miss old Doc Pazdral.

When I got to feeling better, I went to war with the yellow jackets.  You’re probably familiar with the cans of insect killer which spray a stream of certain death from fifteen or twenty feet away.   I must have located and sprayed at least seven different yellow jacket nests.  It was a pretty successful war from my point of view.  I killed without mercy and took no prisoners.

A few days later, feeling that the battlefield was cleared of the enemy, I was confidently standing on my back porch minding my own business when a passing jacket decided my hand, which I had innocently raised to shade my eyes, was an easy target.  Darn it, got me again.  I revisited the seven nests trying to kill the “dead” insects.  A little Benadryl and I was fine.

Yellow jackets as a race of insects are a hardy lot.  Before you can count yourself the victor, they return, build nests and multiply.  Crap.