Chen, a farmer, pointed with a shaky hand at the small plot of cabbage, spring onions and corn where his friend Yu Yihong was stung to death by giant hornets.
"When he got to the hospital, there were still two hornets in his trousers," said Chen, who declined to give his full name.
"The hornets' poison was too strong - his liver and kidneys failed and he couldn't urinate."
Yu, a square-jawed 40-year-old farmer in perfect health, had been harvesting his crops when he stepped on a nest of Vespa mandarinia hornets hidden under a pile of dry corn husks.
The hornets swarmed all over him, stinging him through his long-sleeved shirt and trousers.
He ran, but the hornets chased him, continuing to sting his arms, legs, head and neck.
About 50 friends and relatives gathered outside his mountainside home in Yuanba village to mourn his death. Yu's wife and two children sat inside, weeping.
Vespa mandarinia is the world's largest hornet, about the size of a human adult's thumb.
It is yellow and black and highly venomous. Its 6mm-long stingers carry a venom potent enough to dissolve human tissue. Victims may die of kidney failure or anaphylactic shock.
Yu's story is a tragic but increasingly common one in Shaanxi province where, over the past three months alone, hornets have killed 42 people and injured a further 1,675.
Ankang, a municipality in the province's south, appears to be the epicentre of the scourge. While hornets infest its mountainous rural areas every year - 36 residents were stung to death between 2002 and 2005 - locals and municipal officials say this year is close to an epidemic, the worst they have ever seen.
At least some of the deaths were caused by Vespa mandarinia, or the Asian giant hornet, experts say. The species does not typically attack unless it feels its nest is threatened.
But when it does, it can be fierce and fast - the hornets can fly at 40km/h and cover 80 kilometres in a day. They nest in tree stumps or underground, making nests very difficult to detect.
Both locals in the northwestern province and experts blame this year's scourge on climate change - the past year has been unusually warm, allowing a high number of hornets to survive the winter. Huang Ronghui, an official at the Ankang Forestry Bureau's pest control department said the hornets may have been agitated by a dry spell, while labourers had moved deeper and deeper into the mountains, disturbing their nests.
"Other than this, hornets are attracted to bright colours and the smell of peoples' sweat, alcohol and sweet things," he said. "They're sensitive to movement, such as running people or animals."