Monday, September 15, 2008

Aqua Ants

Some people are terrorized by dogs, others by bullies, some by the IRS. I know a woman who has been dive bombed several times by birds who try to pull out her hair to add to their nest. Another friend is plagued by stray cats. I am stalked by red ants that bite.

The first time I got bit by a fire ant was the summer we moved south. When the little bugger got me on the big toe it burned like hell and continued to sting for the rest of the day while my toe got bigger and bigger. It was freakish looking and really hot to the touch by dinnertime, and I spent the remainder of the evening sitting on the side of the tub running my foot under cold water. When I showed my neighbor my hot itchy swollen toe the next day she located the ants' evil lair in the front of my yard and told me I better call the county and get it taken care of fast. Those things could kill my cat, she told me, and I believed her--she had lived here for longer than I had and was wise in the ways of evil Southern insects. And she's a scientist. The second time I got bit was that fall, and that time landed me in Urgent Care with a foot the size of a bread loaf. I couldn't drive my car for a day was supposed to use a crutch. Ants have sought me out numerous other times since then, including at the lake (Urgent Care), in a parking lot (Urgent Care), and while putting up a sign for a garage sale (steroid ointment from the Resident next door's secret stash after my foot blew up so big I couldn't even put it in a shoe) (followed by Urgent Care the next day).

Ella and I were on a walk in the rain once when she kicked up a nest of ants and they swarmed us. I tucked her under my arm and ran back to the apartment with fire coming off my heels. I threw us both in the tub immediately and and pumped us full of benadryl. We both lived to be bitten another day. (Right: Enjoying the day just moments before the attack)

One day I took some children who were in my care to the park. They wandered off behind some bushes with Ella in tow. The ants swarmed about a minute later. The children had somehow lodged themselves between the hedge and a fence, making their retreat impossible. I threw my newborn into the arms of a complete stranger who happened to be standing near by (I seem to do this a lot) and went in after them. I had on shoes and socks and managed to sustain only an ankle bite that, by the end of the day, looking like a goiter. After lunch we decided to write a book about our day. I drew pictures of swing sets and happy faces. They drew screaming children covered in ants.

The last two times I was bitten were just absurd. The ants are getting craftier in their quest for my flesh. With only a couple of months to go in their season, they have not yet completed their mission to send me to the Urgent Care this year and are starting to resort to otherwise unthinkable means. The land attack hasn't worked so they've moved on to water. That's right, water. They have actually followed me into the swimming pool and have crossed the water to bite me. And only me--I asked around and no one else at the pool has suffered from an underwater attack. I've had the last laugh though (although I thought I might have heard a tiny dying snicker after the second one). The first time they bit me on the side, but the water washed away most of the poison and I ended up with only a burning swollen lump that blended in with my love handles. The second bite was on the rear, and again I only had burning and swelling (this time it looked like a third cheek which, I hear, turns some people on). No co-pay for me!

The pool closes at the end of the month so the only thing left for my enemies is an aerial attack. I can picture them now, troops of them braving the elements and risking their lives to come after me with the battle cry: "Earth, Wind, Water, Fire Ants, ho!" But I'll be ready for them. Look for me at the park--I'll be the one in the turtle neck and bee keeper helmet. Then who will be laughing (other than you)?

1 comment:

  1. Be careful with flooding- that's when they really come at you in the water. Swarms of fire ants in a huge pile will float in the floodwater. The ones on the bottom layer usually end up dead and supporting the rest, but there are generally hundreds on the upper layers! I'm surprised there haven't been many stories coming out of Houston/Galveston about people being attacked by them in the floodwaters from Ike.