Wasps (including hornets, yellow jackets and other members of Vespula and Dolichovespula species that regularly visit gardens) have sabre-like stingers that smoothly puncture the skin, release and puncture again repeatedly, delivering a swift inoculation of venom with each sting and these guys can sting you several times in a matter of seconds.
The sting sites swell with venom and histamine reaction. Similar to hives or blisters, they are sore after the sting and become irritated and itchy. Once the sting venom is neutralised or after it is dealt with by the body’s healing mechanism the sting swellings normally dissipate over several hours to a day or so. even if not prone to anaphylaxis, some people swell considerably upon being stung by a wasp, so if stung on a ring finger remove any rings as a priority.
First response: RUN!!! not a joke, you may have disturbed a nest and one sting will not be the limit if you did. Once safely inside, cool the sting site(s) with tap water and then douse a bit of vinegar over it. There are no barbed stings to remove with wasps or its cousins but anti-histamines will slow your body’s inflammatory response and also help the venom dissipate. Utilize some frozen veg or ice in a tea towel wrap as Cold therapy will to numb the discomfort and also reduce swelling.
Garden aid: A crushed basil leaf compress or squeeze of its juice is remedial to sting venom and site swelling, as are the crushed the leaves of winter savory, calendula and plantain. Drink yarrow tea to counteract sensitizing by multiple stings. A mashed carrot compress is remedial.
Top tip: Wasp and hornet stings are accompanied by strongly alkaline venom. A ten minute soak in vinegar (acetic acid) will neutralise the venom – don’t waste time with baking sodas or other alkaline – keep them for bee stings. You can tape on a cotton pad or strip of gauze dipped in vinegar.