The Swarming of Yellow Jackets

(Warning:  Not for the faint of heart.)

An idyllic moment turned catastrophic.  Two weeks ago on Thursday, my girls and I were playing with the water hose in the backyard as I was tending to the plants when we were suddenly, and without warning, attacked by yellow jackets. Chickadee was stung first, then Wren, and then they came for me.  There were dozens upon dozens of them swarming us, so I scooped up Chickadee and we ran into the house.

There were so many, and as I was trying to make sense what was happening, my first thought was “Have killer bees made it to Virginia?” – Polly

They followed us into the house, and I instinctively grabbed the house phone to call my husband before I realized that the yellow jackets had followed us in and were unrelenting in their assault.  We ran up the stairs to the kitchen where they were still stinging us.  We ran up the stairs again and into Chickadee’s room.

We sought refuge, but we didn’t find it there.

The wasps followed us up two flights of stairs and had found a way to enter the bedroom.  They were also swarming at the windows.  It was the most terrifying 30 minutes of my life. I was crying out loud to God for mercy.  The girls both were hiding under blankets during the attack.

At this point I think I was able to explain the situation to my husband, who was able to call the doctor, who urged me to call 911 should anyone show signs of an allergic reaction.  Chickadee was stung more than Wren, so I was intent on studying her first.  Then I looked at Wren who now had a puffy lip and swollen ears.  I called 911.

I was absolutely terrified to leave the room.  I did not know how many of the wasps from the initial attack made it into the house.  All I knew was they were still coming into the room even though I had blocked the top and bottom of the door with blankets.  I have never been so frightened in my life.  I started hyperventilating, maybe when I was on the phone with 911, I don’t remember too much of what happened.

Two ambulance crews responded to the call due to the fact that all three of us were attacked.  My husband got home around the same time.  I initially thought I was stung two dozen times, but that ended up being a conservative guess.  (Once the swelling went down, we did a proper count.)  I was stung closer to 30 times.  Even though I called the paramedics for Wren, they ended up checking MY vitals.

By the time we evacuated the house, I was in shock.  One of our neighbors took us in, fed us, made sure our dog was okay.  (I think the cat slept through the entire ordeal.)  I was pretty useless for the rest of the day.  At first, the stings burned.  A rash developed and my skin felt very taut.

Thankfully there was Benadryl cream in the nursery so I was able to treat our wounds immediately.  Wren’s swelling went down rapidly, and Chickadee was so chill throughout the ordeal. The next day (Friday), my arm which had most of the stings, felt like the second day of a broken arm. The burning sensation lasted until Saturday, but I was so incredibly itchy for days from head to foot. Literally from head to foot as I was in a dress, and they got me everywhere.

Then I started to flare up anytime I would venture outside in the humid heat. It was unbearable. Finally, on the twelfth day after the attack, I went to to the doctor’s office to seek medical treatment.  The flare-ups still happen, but they are much less painful.

So, that’s that the end of the story, right? If only.

Yesterday, I met up with some friends for a gingerly hike up a beautiful meadow trail. I was admiring the dozens of butterflies and the scenic valley views when a solitary sting penetrated my pinky finger.

And then…  Oh, yes, and then…

I had gone to the kitchen to grab my afternoon coffee when I saw my husband who had gone into the woods to practice with his new bow, down the road a bit, jumping.  “Hmm, that’s odd,” I thought.  Then I saw him take off running.  “Hmm, that’s strange,” I thought.  Then I noticed he wasn’t carrying his bow or arrows.  “Uh oh,” I muttered.

My husband had stumbled across an angry nest of yellow jackets, and he had a trail of them following him home.  I urged him to go into the car and to not bring them into the house.  He graciously obliged.  However, they must have followed him into the car, because he came running out soon after.  Very cautiously, I allowed him to enter the house as the wasps were still buzzing around the front yard.

He quickly ran to the basement where I heard some screaming.  A scream that was a little too familiar.

He had brought them inside.

Fortunately, he was only stung four or five times, and through clothing.  He reports today that he is incredibly itchy.

They hurt my queen; I’ll kill theirs. -Okey

We had asked our exterminator to clear out the nest in our backyard after the first attack.  He put on his special suit with the helmet and mesh mask and poured a poison powder on top of their home in the hops planter.  The purpose of this poison was to kill the queen and to make their home inhospitable.  I can’t help but wonder if this nest Okey had found were the angry refugees from our backyard.

I wish I had a better conclusion for you.  Even though I am doing better with the medicine, I am hesitant to spend much time outdoors right now, especially with the girls.  I just can’t bear the thought of another attack.

You wouldn’t believe how much knitting I’ve got finished in the past two weeks.


2 thoughts on “The Swarming of Yellow Jackets

  1. Wow! I’m so glad you made it through and your girls and hubby were ok, too. Isn’t knitting wonderful keeping your hands busy so you don’t scratch? I hope the exterminator took care of the problem and you all can relax outside again soon!


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