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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fire Ant Attack

While I was viewing the big yellow and red chicken, I came across this mound. My foot was one inch from it. It is a fire ant mound.

Having lived in the South all my life and having been nearly covered with and bitten by fire ants, I never stop and stand unless I look down. That day, I was so engrossed with the junk/antiques behind the fence that I forgot to be on guard.

When I was ten-years-old, I, along with my nine-year-old brother, and seven-year-old sister went to the woods to pick plums so Mama could make jam. As I stood and picked plums, I felt nothing. Then, all of a sudden I was being bitten from my panties to my foot on one leg and from my knee down on the other leg. I ran screaming, tossing my bucket of plums, trying to get home. I jumped from the bank into a ditch, stepping onto something that cut a gash in my bare foot.

As I ran screaming along the asphalt road, headed for Mama, my younger and much smaller brother chased me down, grabbed me and hung onto me until he had me on the pavement, and then took his bare hands and scraped them off me. When he had them all off and had been stung himself, we both ran home. Of course, I was still screaming and crying. My little sister followed, horrified by the whole ordeal.

How did fire ants cover my whole leg and to the thigh on the other leg without me knowing it? Fire ants cover a person or animal and a signal is given so they all bite at once, holding on and stinging over and over.

If you hear me say I fear ants, this is why. My mother was horrified. We all knew the dangers and had gotten an ant or two on us over the years. I was very ill for several days and in misery. For the next five or six years, my little toe on one foot became inflamed. I had had many bites on that toe during the fire ant attack.

When I was about fifteen, Daddy told me to wash the dishes because I would not mind Mama. There were ants all over them. Daddy was threatening to get the belt if I did not wash the dishes. I don't know whether he would have or not. I was crying too hard to care if he beat me to death. I would never have gone near the sink or kitchen.  My brother who saved me from more fire ant bites and who had never washed a dish in his life, went to the sink and rinsed all the ants off and killed them on the counters. He spent an hour rinsing and looking for ants and stopped them where they came into the kitchen. All this time, Daddy was muttering, Mama was trying to calm him, and I was just crying. When all ants were gone, THEN, I washed the dishes. By the way, no one ever suggested I wash the dishes if ants were present.

People have received fair warning that if fire ants ever go up my clothing at a picnic or wherever, I come out of my clothing! Right then! Now!

 I took a rock and broke off the top of the mound. Usually, a small stick will break up the mound. This mound had been rained on, so it was too hard for the stick I found.

Above, the ants are running, not many, but I wanted to get away before they found me. Yes, they would have found me.

When I was in grad school, I was talking to a professor as we walked together and parted ways. She commented on the "cute little mounds or dirt," wondering what they were. I told her--fire ants, dangerous, will kill small animals and small children. She was from the North and gave me that look that we reserve for the ignorant, the pathetic ones who believe in "haints." (ghosts)

As I kept reassuring her and my words of caution grew stronger, she caught on--I was teasing her. She thought!

Finally, I told her to stand on one of the mounds if she wanted to be sure. I assured her I would not help get the ants off her because they really frightened me.

She said she was going to ask someone else. How arrogant! If you visit the South and believe we are ignorant, beware. Fire Ants are no myth. You may have no faith in god, but you had best believe what fire ants can do. Whew, sounds like a tent meeting could be starting. But, there could be fire ants in the area. I am out!

I know you all believe me, but the "Brazilian" Fire Ant is discussed here. Right now, I just imagine they are on my feet. Yikes. They are in my yard. I just hope they never get my hens. Oh, bird populations decline when imported fire ants are abundant. Plus, they can kill plants, including young trees. And, they can nest in homes.

A local, prominent attorney was found dead beside his tractor. An autopsy revealed nothing. Finally, someone remembered a rash on his ankle. Further testing revealed that he had a dozen fire ant stings. He was obviously highly allergic to the sting. His whole family was tested. It turns out they are allergic to stings from fire ants, bees, and wasps. Now, his grandchildren have epipens or something injectable  in the school. Instructions are to use the pen first, call an ambulance, and then call the parents who will go to the hospital.

I never, ever stop walking or sit without examining where my feet are placed. Or my behind.
Your turn
Have you ever been bitten by fire ants?  What is your experience with them? Are you a believer or skeptic? LOL


  1. Oye! They sound miserable!!

    When I was at summer camp I once stood on a log to pick raspberries only to find out that the whole log was an ant nest. Black ants (I live in Canada). They bit, and it hurt enough to make me cry, but it doesn't sound near as bad as fire ant bites!

  2. Sue,
    I can surely sympathize with standing in any kind of ants.

  3. Fire ants, no. Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets -- yikes! I'm terrified of them. When my husband and I were dating he told me that bees/wasps etc wouldn't bother me if I didn;t bother them. about a week later, we were just walking along, just walking, minding my own business and a yellow jacket came right at me, landed on me and before I could do a thing he stung me! I have never believed anything about bees/wasps and all those stinging things that my husband tells me since! And as for shimmering out of clothing in a hurry, once when my kids were small we were out in the yard and a bee landed on my shirt and would not get off. I was trying very hard not to panic. Finally I told my oldest to go open the back door for me. I quickly took my shirt off, dropped it in the dirt and ran into the house. My family knows now, a bee gets on me and I have no sense of appropriate attire.

  4. Lili,
    Why do people tell people that these stinging creatures won't bother us if we don't bother them? All false in my book. You probably got a lot of mileage out of that sting. Yellow jackets are the worst!

    I was standing in a shop at a local lumberyard, discussing something being built for me. I saw the wasp come in the huge open doors and just sail into my elbow like a rocket. The guy apologized for not helping me because he saw it, too.

    Yes, I do understand the shedding of clothing under any circumstance when stinging things are on or in them. That is funny. I'll bet the kids didn't forget! "Mama was naked in the yard." "Mama got undressed outdoors."

    Like a guy, your husband is probably still shaking his head and laughing. Good stories. I don't feel so alone now.


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