Monday, August 09, 2010

Feel the buzz

My son was stung by a wasp last week, he was out and about with some friends in Virginia water at the time so my wife called me at work to ask what to do. In the absence of any antihistamine I couldn't remember if it was bee or wasp stings that you can supposedly put vinegar onto. Luckily the internet came to my rescue, wasp stings are alkaline and bee stings acid, so in theory vinegar would be preferable for wasp stings; they retired to a nearby tea shop where (I imagine) a kind lady deprived some poor fish and chip consumer of their rightful portion of Sarsons.

On further reading though it would seem that vinegar or bicarbonate (in the case of bee stings) probably does very little to actually mitigate the effects of the sting, the chemicals involved in insect venom are many and complex and the relative PH may not even contribute toward the pain or the reaction anyway (those pesky scientists again spoiling a perfectly good folk-remedy!) What is probably more relevant is that the attention offered to a small child in seeking out and applying what seems to be a specific remedy by an authority figure probably has a placebo effect which helps much more than immersing the child in a pickled onion jar. Fortunately there were no allergic reactions to the sting and it was all forgotten about an hour later, when he was ready to face the hordes of wasp-kind once again.

Whilst we're on the topic of wasps I came across this story the other day, the largest wasp nest in Britain was discovered in a Hampshire pub chimney (see picture above) recently, they reckon there were half a million of the little blighter's in there, not something you'd want to accidentally discover on your regular Friday night lock in!

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