Friday, August 3, 2012

Oral Copulation With Nature

Beautiful Vespula close up
Often when I breakfast on my deck I am joined be a few yellow jackets looking for meat. Science calls the California version Vespula sulphurea (Sulphur wasp)--("vespa" = "wasp" in Italian). What Vespulae call us is unknown, no doubt expressed in some deep non-symbolic insect code. If there are just a few of them I happily let them share my meal--they are especially fond of meat--and I usually leave a few scraps for them to take home. They are beautiful little animals--it is impossible to imagine what sorts of consciousness they possess, but like me, they like to eat. Usually in the early morning, only one comes to visit. More than three I consider bothersome and move my meal inside.

Today I was having sausage and eggs with one of the Vespula clan, when a comrade showed up and then a third. I watched them tearing away at the sausages and bearing pieces away. (They live underground in big hives.) I was eating the sausages too, cutting them into pieces and pushing them into my mouth when suddenly my tongue burned like a piercing. Then the rest of my mouth filled with pain. I spit the sausage onto the plate along with the little wasp I had almost swallowed. Surrounded by meat and teeth he had bit me three times--on the tongue, on my inner gum and on my inner lip. The wasp seemed to be unharmed by this adventure and went creeping off along the tablecloth soon returning to the plate. I was careful afterwards to inspect each morsel before putting it in my mouth.

Within a few minutes the pain subsided but half of my tongue quickly swelled up making it difficult to eat, and the right side of my lower lip looked like I had been hit by a boxer. (Besides the brief pain, there were no noticeable alterations of consciousness.) For some few people, wasp venom is toxic and can cause death, but for most us the symptoms quickly disappear. Within an hour or two, the size of my tongue and lip was back to normal. This oral connection with Vespula taught me to pay more attention to how I eat when wasps are around.

I was especially glad that I had not swallowed.

"I coulda been a contendah."

1 comment:

iona miller said...

my remedy for that is baking soda with vinegar which makes a frothy paste and neutralizes much of it.