Thank you everybody for all of your kind comments and emails, I really appreciate all the good thoughts and suggestions. Everyone is OK here after all of our fun with wasps or hornets. I am not sure which they are. The first nest we tangled with may actually have been a tree nest that fell down, I have a brief impression of a paper nest as I was going over the top of it, but it is all a muddle and I didn't have time to go out today to check. Whatever they were, they were very large (almost double the size of a honeybee), dark colored and downright mean. They were not yellow jackets or any other wasp I am familiar with. The second nest that we hit must have been something even meaner though as this is what poor Emma's nose looks like today...
It's no wonder she wasn't breathing properly, this had to be extremely painful. I guess all I can say is that I am glad we didn't all get multiple stings from this monster. I think we might have all been in real trouble if we had.
I am going to put on my bee suit and go out and try to find this nest tomorrow and see what it will take to get rid of it. M from NC had some good suggestions. I generally avoid killing most insects as many of them are beneficial, but these have got to go. They are too dangerous and too mean.
I am about 99% sure that Emma and Ramsey's reactions were from pain/fear/trauma and not an allergic reaction. Especially after seeing what Emma's nose looks like. The vet agrees with this, but that other little 1% has me, if not exactly worried, than wanting to be prepared for any emergency. After all, the emergency you are prepared for never happens right? So, I am going to keep a small dose of steroids on hand just in case. I really don't think I will ever need it, but I would rather have it and never use it than not have it and need it. I asked about giving Benedryl, but apparently it only works well in horses if given prior to the sting so that's out as there is no way to predict such a thing.
It turns out that two of my friends also had encounters with ground hornets this weekend. Considering the time of year and the insane weather we have had, I guess it is no surprise. The bees/wasps/hornets are at their peak population, but there is very little food available for them at the moment. I think we all need to be on the look out for the next few weeks.
I sent yesterday's blog post to my vet and this is what I got back, as I said, everybody is having trouble with ground wasps/hornets lately:
Sounds like a VERY exciting day to say the least. I would say that the reaction that Emma and Ramsay had was likely a post adrenaline rush combined with the pain of the stings. I stepped on a ground hornets nest while hiking a few weeks ago and boy did they hurt - about 15 stings later on my legs and ankles, I felt pretty miserable and they hurt for a very long time. The whole thing sounds pretty scary to them so their reaction would have been expected. As long as they are both doing well now, no need to worry and they are not at increased risk for anaphylactic reactions in the future.
Emma's odd breathing after her second sting makes a lot of sense considering how it looks today, it must have hurt to breath so she was holding her breath, trying not to. I also know that donkeys talk to each other in sounds that are too low for humans to hear. I can see this happen sometimes, usually when Emma is concerned about something and wants Ramsey to come to her immediately. I see her nostrils move, but can't hear anything other than a tiny wuffle. However, Ramsey (who may be a hundred feet away on the other side of a wall playing with a cone), instantly drops whatever he is doing and comes running to her on high alert with no games or nonsense.
I think that some of the odd breathing, grunting and snoring noises I heard yesterday were the donkeys talking about what had happened. The equivalent of me sitting in the barn on the up-turned bucket, holding my stung ear and saying, "ahhh jeez, that was a bit much". Ramsey in particular is quite vocal, in a quiet way. He is always snoring, snuffling and squeaking at me, trying hard to tell me something. I wish I could hear more of his conversation and understand what he is saying. Maybe he is saying he wants an outfit like this: