“Sweet Cheeks.  Honey Buns.  Lookin’ a little swollen on the backside?”

Funny. I get it. No really, I do.
Recently, I was able to get a babysitter, run a few errands, and sit down for lunch.   It was a gorgeous afternoon so I went into our local fresh foods market and got a cup of butternut squash and apple soup. With the store’s patio basking in the sun of the afternoon I decided to take full advantage of the low humidity and soak up a peaceful 20 minutes… solo.

I couldn’t believe I had the entire area to myself.
Buzz. I chose a table about five feet away from a glass wall that divided me from the dozen or so air condition-breathing, Sirius radio-listening, fluorescent light-enjoying patrons hovering over their grocery store sushi, foil-panned salads, and organic coffees. Nothing against grocery store sushi or salads in foil pans, but with this incredible late-summer weather I decided to eat al fresco.

I took…buzz…a deep relaxing breath and began to dine. Buzz. Swat!

Ok, who brought the annoying lunch…
buzz… guest? Bothersome, a nuisance, and persistent, this yellow jacket wanted my soup as much as I did.  Swat! I moved to the next table to avoid the unending air raid as I was determined to enjoy my lunch in peace…buzz….if only for a moment. Swat! Buzz…and I pulled out my chair to sit…doooowwwwn… YOWZER!!!
Curse words immediately erupted from my tightly pursed lips. A concentrated piercing burn penetrated the crease where my thigh met my keister.

“Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue”, writes Justin Schmidt, an etymologist at the Carl Hayen Bee Research Center in Arizona, except this pain wasn’t on my tongue. Schmidt, creator of the Schmidt Pain Index, a pain scale rating the relative pain caused by different hymenoptera, says the pain associated from a yellow jacket sting rates 2.0 out of 4.0; about twice as much pain as a bite from a fire ant, but not the full, intense, brilliant pain from a bullet ant (4.0). I became acutely aware of my grocery store audience on the other side of the glass wall, and tried to keep from flailing about. I staggered inside, hoping not to draw attention to my throbbing derriere, and out of desperation purchased a $10.99 homeopathic salve designed to calm stings. This ridiculously priced, miniature chapstick-like product inspired me to search out other, less expensive, ways of easing the pain in my tush. I hope you never are in the unfortunate position to test the efficacy of these suggestions; however should your duff come in contact with the rear end of an apocrita you will be well prepared!

Please, have common sense. If you are allergic or experience any allergic symptoms such as tightening of the throat, difficulty breathing, dizziness, rapid swelling of the eyes, lips, tongue or throat, or itching, seek immediate medical attention.
#1: According to a physician near and dear to my heart (my husband), make a slush of ice and baking soda. The ice will help numb the area as well as minimize swelling. The alkalinity of the baking soda will neutralize the acidity of the sting venom and help with pain.
#2: Make a paste of meat tenderizer and water or baking soda and water–apply to bite.
#3: Cover with honey and reapply as needed for pain.
#4: Dab with a generous amount of toothpaste and leave on the wound.
#5: Soak in Epsom salt and water or make paste and apply.
# 6: Apply Aloe Vera.
#7: Chew a plantain leaf then apply then apply to the bite/sting.
#8: Crush fresh parsley and/or basil and apply to wound.
#9: Apply a slice of fresh papaya.
#10: Dab on a bit of deodorant.
In case you were wondering, I survived with no excess swelling. My lunch was ruined; however I managed to cook up my own version of Butternut Squash and Apple soup and ate it at home… inside.
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
1 large butternut squash
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 leek, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup cream, optional
Garnish: finely chopped butternut squash soup and olive oil OR dollop of creme fraiche/sour cream
Peel and cut the squash into pieces, mix with orange juice, brown sugar and broken cinnamon stick. If desired, reserve some uncooked squash and dice for garnish. Put on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and cover. Bake at 400 until soft.
Sautee the leek, onion, and apple in a little butter until soft, not browned.
Pour off any juice from squash and reserve. Add the squash to the leek/onion mixture, along with chicken stock. Simmer for a few minutes and then remove cinnamon stick. Puree the mixture in batches in a food processor, blender, or immersion blender. Add cream.
Sautee reserved diced squash in olive oil until tender. Add reserved juice from baked squash and stir. Use for garnish.

Becky Sacchetti of the Inn Keepers Daughters