Stings and Beans

I awoke this morning, bright and early, to take advantage of my last day off work of this wonderful 3 day weekend. My plan was to finish my garden hoeing and weeding, harvest lima beans and green beans and get some fall crop seeds in the ground before the heat of the day. Everything was going along just ducky until…

I got stung by one of these:

Google Image

THIS my dears is called a Saddleback caterpillar and it is pure evil. It was on the underside of a lima bean plant leaf, and when I went to push back the leaves to look at the beans underneath, I touched it. The knuckles of my right ring finger and pinky got ZAPPED! Stunned, and not sure WHAT I might have come in contact with, I looked closely at my knuckles that were THROBBING and BURNING and noticed several little glistening “hairs” sticking out of them, almost like small little cactus barbs. Not being sure exactly what he was or how poisonous he was, I carefully picked the leaf from the plant he was on, dumped out the cats water bowl and placed him in it to bring inside for further research. I took him to my husband and asked him to look it up on Google while I washed my hands thoroughly. Once I got the little barbs washed off, the throbbing subsided, but the burning did not. It felt like a burn you get when you accidentally touch the side of a pot on the stove or the oven rack.  Once we figured out that it wasn’t lethal, (Lol!), I made sure I had the area cleansed, all the little barbs gone and popped a Benadryl. (Here’s a link for first aid for stinging caterpillars to save you some time should you encounter one:

Now, I am highly allergic to bee stings and most bug bites. My skin is anyway. Thankfully, I’ve never suffered from anaphylaxis, but I’ve also never been “attacked” by a swarm of bees or such either. My reaction might be much more severe in that case. I did get a bad case of chigger bites last summer, which resulted in horrible welts from the bites and I felt like I had the flu until they healed. Usually I encounter a LOT of swelling of the sting or bite area and just have to keep a close eye on it. I keep a bottle of Benadryl around at all times. Best first aid is to usually wash the area, use a paste of baking soda to remove any poison and make sure there are no stingers or anything left behind. It’s also why I ALWAYS  usually wear gloves when gardening or working outside. My biggest fear is not knowing WHAT might have stung me or bit me and then I wouldn’t know how to treat it or if I needed to seek medical attention. And I never, ever, never just stick my hands under or in areas that I can’t see into first. Even without an allergic reaction, you can’t be too careful. Spider bites, scorpion stings, snake bites, etc. are nothing to play around with. Especially if it’s something that may zap you and then run off, so you’ve no clue what it was. A brown recluse? Oh, shudder the thought! Better safe than sorry!

After the Benadryl foggy coma wore off, I did manage to resume my harvesting (in gloves, of course) and was rewarded with quite the haul of lima beans! 


I spent the time during the hottest part of the day shelling my beauties. (I’m adding a bean sheller to my Santa wishlist, by the way). I washed them, blanched them for two minutes in boiling water followed by an ice bath. All total I had 1 1/2 quarts baggies for the freezer! I’m so excited! These will make for some gooood eating through the colder months. A piping hot bowl of FRESH lima beans and some buttery cornbread and I am a happy homesteader indeed! We’ve enjoyed eating them over the summer along with mashed potatoes and fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers straight from the garden. They are so flavorful and sweet and tender. Certainly stepping up the quantity and variety of beans for the next summer garden. And that’s a good motivator to master pressure canning!

Once the day cooled a bit, I took my little trooper self back out there to plant the fall crop seeds.  (Mind you, my knuckles have felt like a fresh burn most of the day. No swelling, just very irritated. It’s been 10 hours since I got stung by that little devil, and now they burn more like a bad paper cut than a kitchen burn, but STILL!) Now in the ground are seeds for green onions, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, and radishes. I’m thinking that will be a good trial run variety for a fall garden since I’ve never done one before. According to the planting guide from my extension agency, these are about the only crops I can plant (well, that we would eat anyway) at this time of year. In our growing area, we should have about another month of warmer days before the fall like temperatures arrive. Hopefully, it’ll be long enough to get those seeds germinated and growing before the weather turns too cool. Of course, being in Georgia, we could have a heat wave come through in mid October and swelter it to death before the frost has a chance to get to it. Always a gamble when dealing with Mother Nature I suppose. She can’t be tamed, so we’ve got to work with her, even if the outcome isn’t what we’ve got planned. 🙂


One thought on “Stings and Beans

  1. That is one funky (but spiteful) looking caterpillar! I’ve never seen anything quite like it and I wouldn’t like to either after reading about your encounter. Lovely looking bean harvest, I hope your knuckles are ok now 🙂


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