Tiyung Dayak – “The Sour Dayak Apple” in Bidayuh Politics

For the Greater Glory of Bidayuh Politics

Been chased by a “killer lady” that rode a Vespa!

November 5, 2009 (1625 hours)…

On my way home after plucking some Midin (Fiddlehead ferns) (Stenochlaena palustris) to be cooked for dinner, I had been chased by this single, “killer lady”. I struggled and fought hard with it, but in the end, that “killer lady” won!

How nice!, as I got stung in the head – stung for the second time – by the same, “lone killer lady”. A “killer lady”?, as some of you might get your brains boggling… Well, think of a phrase “killer whale”; so, “killer lady” is totally different from “lady killer”, lah!

I knew that I’ve encroached into its territory while looking for that tasty, edible ferns. Yup, I passed by the nest(s) – located inside the hollow, abandoned log(s). I quickly threw my cigarette, knowing that the killer ladies are sensitive to smoke, odour (any kind of mineral-based odour – either from fuel, perfume, etc.), including any bright color (T-)shirts. About the smoke; I’ve experienced it when I first got stung in the wrist while puffing a cigarette after lunch – and that was happened on September 13, 2006! Yup, it has been a looong three years…

The venom – whenever it enters into the body – is akin to a knife slicing our own skin and it was very painful. I took two tablets of Panadol™ to reduce the pain, but it wasn’t effective. I called my friends to give me some traditional medicine – in the form of a bark. This bark was made known by the Penans; they called it “Penan Selungo”, but unfortunately, the scientific name that could refer to this bark or of that particular tree species remained unknown. The Penans use that bark to treat stomach ache and most importantly, to reduce the pain caused by snake venom… However, whenever there’s a need to use this bark, it must be done in a secret manner; meaning that one shouldn’t boast about it. Just do it nice and easy, i.e. by chewing a bit of the bark and swallow it down. Otherwise, it won’t be effective!

Yup, I did chew some of the bark and made it into a drink – mixed with BOH™ tea. The time was already in the evening and I felt relaxed and prepared my dinner. After dinner, I called my mom and told her on what had happened to me in the afternoon. She told me that the insects are known – loosely translated as the “Pig’s Tongue”. The Malay called it “Tebuan” or “Tebuan Tanah”; in Iban?! Hmmm, I only knew its name as “Indu Utai” (abbreviated as “IU”) – loosely translated as “Lady of something”; in English, it is known as “hornet(s)” or could it specifically refers to “Asian Giant Hornet(s) (AGH)”? The National Geographic (or NatGeo) also has its own online reference materials about these AGH, here.

Around 2100 hours, the pain in my head was very sharp; I couldn’t stand it anymore. I took another two Panadol™ tablets, still it wasn’t effective. I kept on thinking (on what to do next), until I got another idea! A-ha! I grabbed my cell phone and called my kampong mate, who works as an AMO (Assistant Medical Officer) in a nearby town. So, here is our conversation on that night:

Myself : O’ lutor… Nama brita déh?! (Hi, doc! How are you?)
My AMO friend : Paguh… Oni hal ingan fon oku adin tih? Oku ogi download movie tih; movie Maikél Jéksen – “This Is It” (I’m fine… What’s the matter for ringin’ me up? I’m downloading Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” movie right now.)
Myself : Wey, I wanna ask you something, lah! I got stung by a hornet this afternoon. Is there any powerful drug to reduce the pain? I’m thinking of taking a leave tomorrow to get a treatment at a nearby clinic…
My AMO friend : What?! Argh, take it easy, lah. Do you have a cough syrup or flu med with you right now?
Myself : What?!
My AMO friend : A cough syrup or flu med… That medication contained anti-histamine. You go online and check for “histamine” and “anti-histamine”; I think there’s a reference on it.
Myself : Cough syrup?! Flu med?! Hold on a sec!

Seconds later…

Myself : Yup, I got one; but this one is a cough syrup… It’s NILCO Syrup… I got it from you earlier this year, remember?! The flu med was consumed looong time ago, lah
My AMO friend : Ya kah? (Is it?)
Myself : Ya lah… How come, a cough syrup?! And what is this “histamine”? I knew the name but never know its meaning, lah
My AMO friend : Aiya… “histamine” lah… Sort of allergy or painful venom, you know…
Myself : But this syrup… it contains, uhmmm… Di… phen; Di-phen-hydra… mine; yup, Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride… Can it be used or not?
My AMO friend : I’m not sure; unless it contains Chlorphenamine Maleate a.k.a. Piriton or Promethazine Hydrochloride a.k.a. Phenergan. These two ingredients are effective in battling such pain, you know… Better for you to check it on the internet.
Myself : Wokey lah; I’ll try this cough syrup first!
My AMO friend : Wokey!

I was in doubt actually! How come a cough syrup can be used to reduce such pain? Anyway, I took a gulp of it – around 2115 hours. Moments later, I logged on to the internet and Googled-search the keyword “histamine”. Yeah, I found it! Most of the following information was found in Wikipedia: Histamine, Anti-Histamine (this is where I’ve found that Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride can be used to treat bee/hornet sting, including other allergens (e.g. Rengas latex)), Chlorphenamine Maleate, Promethazine Hydrochloride, etc.

Moments later, I rang my AMO friend again…

Myself : Hi, doc? Are you sleeping already, kah?!
My AMO friend : Not yet, lah… I’m still downloading the movie
Myself : Owh… You know what?!
My AMO friend : What?!
Myself : I got the information that you gave me just now. Wah, now I know that… that NILCO cough syrup can be used as a sedative, as it contained Di-phen-hy-dra-mine… I had taken a gulp just now.
My AMO friend : I’ve told you already. With internet, everything also got, what… That’s the power of internet!
Myself : Chéh! Héh!
My AMO friend : So, how was it?
Myself : Not yet sure, lah. Have to wait, lah! Wokey, we’ll see on what’s going to happen tomorrow…
My AMO friend : Wokey, I hope that you’re doing fine over there.
Myself : Wokey; chalo béti inspéktor sa’ab… Héh!

I slept around 2245 hours; still got pain in my head! Around 0215 hours, I woke up to ease myself. Wah… I felt a little bit better – after I took a gulp of that cough syrup earlier. I then took another gulp, and went on sleeping…

Nilco 01

A locally manufactured NILCO (Cough) Syrup 90 ml. My AMO friend gave it to me early this year; believe it or not, most people usually got flu whenever a new year begins!

Nilco 02

Shown in the label: Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride 14 mg...

The next morning, I woke up late – at 0740 hours! I was late for work, aiya! This was due to the effect of the drug that caused drowsiness… Anyway, everything was fine, as the pain in my head was 99.9% gone; except that my face was still swollen… There’s no doubt that Panadol™ didn’t help much in relieve the pain, as Paracetamol is not anti-histamine!

Ted - Post bite...

A sketch (redrawn from a digital photograph) of my not-so-handsome, swollen face due to a fiery, painful venom injected by that speedy and bloody “killer lady” on November 5, 2009! My wild guess was this: apart from cigarette odour, the other reason for the attack was due to long hair that I’m keeping! I remembered that I’ve poured some baby oil on my hair on that day – in order to make it smooth and shiny, lah! Yeah, it could be that the lone killer lady thought (if any!) that such a nice and sweet smelling long hair could be another good place for nesting... L.O.L.!!!

That morning, with my swollen head and face, I had faced my colleagues (both males and females) with an opened eyelid, as I hardly opened the other eyelid. And during our morning coffee meeting, I knew it from them that the Ibans called those insects, collectively known as “Indu Gamang” or loosely translated as “Lady Gamang”; hence, the name “killer lady(ies)” was born (and known – internationally!)…

If you read that Wikipedia article (on Asian Giant Hornet(s)), you might wondering whether the Italians have named their famous scooters – “Vespa” – based on the genus name of that species, right?! Exactly! Well, it could be true, based on hornets’ humming sound and their flying speed up to 40 km/h! Phew…! Read about Vespa scooters here.

These hornets – whenever they are “kamikazéing” in a group – could cause fatal injury(ies) to the victim(s). Barely a month ago, a sister and her brother died due to hornets’ attack; an act of negligence from the authorities concerned! Read the following links:

  1. Dua maut diserang tebuan (Utusan Borneo, 5 Oktober 2009); and
  2. Penduduk dakwa aduan tidak dapat respons (Utusan Borneo, 6 Oktober 2009). And more recent and old local news about such attacks are available here!

Our demolition team – led by my boss – has destroyed the hornets’ clustered nests – partially – in a cleansing operation, code named Operation Bunker around 2130 hours on November 7, 2009. They made a huge fire next to the clustered nests (using a worn out rubber tube, old newspaper and few litres of diesel fuel), as these hornets were attracted to light. These clustered nests were located inside hollow logs and it does resemble that infamous Tora Bora! Additional items used in the operation were insecticide aerosols and lighters – used as improvised flamethrowers!

According to my boss, hornets couldn’t fly at night due to darkness. So, whenever they fly into the fire, some might be dead and some might get burnt and wingless (and some could still be alive!). So, in case that some of the hornets are alive after the “baptism of fire”, they’ll crawl on the ground like ants (if any!)… Are you daring enough to stamp these wingless creatures with your foot?! Of course, yes you can!, providing that you wear either a long rubber boots or safety boots!

I managed to get few photos during the cleansing operation, which are shown below:

va01

One of my colleagues is shown here doing flamethrowing using an insecticide aerosol...

va02

Three of the fallen comrades...

va03

A survived, wingless hornet shown in a yellow circle...

va04

Wow! This cleansing operation was akin to military operations in Tora Bora cave complex...

va05

A close-up view of some dead hornets in their “cavern” after the flamethrowing process...

va06

This hornet was still alive when I took this photograph; later it was executed by my boss with a parang...

va07

A close-up view of some of the collected specimens...

va08

The above photo reminds me of the good old days when I took a general study on insects -- Entomology 101. I’ve divided the specimens into two general sections: adults and juveniles (including some larvae nested inside the nest). A ruler is a must to determine the scale (length and width) of any insect.

va09

In this photo, the adults’ length was more than an inch; note that dangerous stingers. Here it is shown that these hornets were black or brownish in color with an orange stripe...

va10

Another Gen-X, juvenile hornet...

Based on the available dead specimens, the hornet species wasn’t Vespa mandarinia or Vespa soror. I’ve checked the internet and I can be sure that the destroyed species belongs to Vespa affinis, commonly known as “Lesser Banded Hornet”. Click here, here and here for details.

At the time of finishing this article (around 0845 hours on November 8, 2009), I’m happy to jot down that my swollen face has shrunk up to 69.9% lah… Hopefully it will be fully recovered within a day or two! However, I can still see some of the hornets are hovering around this morning. Well, I’m not sure whether there will be any subsequent Ops Bunker to follow suit…

To conclude, there are four things to be learnt:

  1. Try to avoid any contact (whatsoever) with these deadliest creatures (and don’t try to play-play, uh!); unless if you are daring enough and determined to destroy its nest(s) – to be done only during night time;
  2. Stockpile your First Aid kit(s) – either with cough or flu syrup that contained anti-histamine such as Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride (Chlorphenamine Maleate a.k.a. Piriton or Promethazine Hydrochloride a.k.a. Phenergan are mostly preferred); whenever and wherever you go (especially to the farm, jungle, recreational park(s), etc.); this also includes an insect repellent spray – to be sprayed upon the “attacked spot(s)” on the body (a tip given by my cousin, who is a staff nurse at SGH);
  3. In case of being attack by hornet(s), drink plenty of plain water (after taking the medicine) to help in “neutralizing” the venom and to ease in flushing out the waste water (containing neutralized venom); and
  4. The ICT (Information and Communication Technology) plays a vital role in getting first-hand and hands-on information, lah

Acknowledgements

My heartfelt thanks to:

  1. Some of the killer ladies, who had died in the cause of justice; for they had fought a good fight; may they rest in peace…
  2. All my friends, who have contributed their ideas and directed their energies in making this cleansing program a foundation of success

Otherwise, this article will not even exist!

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November 8, 2009 - Posted by | 03 Miscellaneous, 06 Product(s) Promotion | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. If your face swelled up this bad, you probably had a systemic, rather than a localized [just redness and pain and slight swelling at the sting site], reaction to the venom. You should get an anti-venom kit and carry it with you at all times, should you get stung again. You will need to get a prescription from a doctor to get this kit. If you have a systemic reaction [where you swell up badly, have trouble breathing, or get hives on your body], it means that your reaction the next time may be more severe and life threatening.

    Comment by Bettina Bergh | November 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks for the advice. This is the second time I got stung by a hornet and I think that I only had a localized reaction to the venom (as it only affected my head and face). It would be a different story then if I got stung by a swarm of hornets – God forbids!

      I’m getting better now. Yup, I’ll get the anti-venom kit as part of precautionary measures and be more vigilant whenever I’m doing my jungle trekking.

      Comment by tiyungdayak | November 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hello, I am the creator/owner of the website you referenced for identification. The hornet in question is Vespa tropica, the greater banded hornet, not Vespa affinis. I havne’t read your blog before, but I’m guessing you are in Malaysia and the Malayan colour form of this species is particularly big, vicious and highly venomous – I’ve experienced some very bad stings from these creatures in Singapore myself. Extreme pain and swelling is to be expected from even one sting, and the reaction you experienced does not sound unusual. Cheers, John

    Comment by John | November 22, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks John for correcting the name of the species. I really appreciate it. I’m glad that you have provided us with some excellent information (including zoomed-in photos) on Vespa spp. Keep up the good work.

      Yup, I’m living in Sarawak, Malaysia. I believe that Sarawak will provides you with vast opportunity on wild life, particularly insects.

      Comment by tiyungdayak | November 22, 2009 | Reply

  3. Anthistamines are really necessary if you have perenial rhinitis and urticaria. ;

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    Comment by Jordan Zwagerman | October 31, 2012 | Reply


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