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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 24th August 2013

I got stung on the back of my hand by a European Hornet near Edenbridge on Thursday. I am now sporting a boxing glove! The whole of my forearm is swollen and hot and I can hardly use my hand.
It was my fault entirely as I was taking a good close look at the nest entrance and admiring these stunning insects. About 4 or 5 were all around my head and I even looked eye to eye with one of them but I just introduced myself and moved gently and they seemed most hospitable. There was a dead one just outside the nest and I picked it up to take a good look. Whilst bending over I felt a hornet near the top of my trousers and I slowly moved my hand there. Wallop! It got me.
Pretty painful at first, about the same as a bee but it got a bit worse after an hour or so. Then it calmed down and just became itchy for the next 12 hours. Finally the swelling started to happen, getting worse while I was at work shifting heavy furniture. Now my paw is next to useless and I'm wondering how long it will be like this.
Hornet stings are not deadly although allergic reactions and stings in the mouth are another thing entirely.
Hornets are an endangered species and are protected by law so killing them is a wildlife crime. They are easily recognised by their huge size and their lovely tawny brown and yellow colouring. If you spot some then the best advice is to keep some distance from the nest. Otherwise, hornets are very peaceful docile creatures and will not attack you.
However, one of my work colleagues could not stop himself from antagonising them and now sports 4 stings on the leg.

A European Hornet (Vespa crabro)


Take the time to read the countryside code for yourself and please stick to it at all times.