Learning the hard way about fire ants

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 3, 2015

The article by Linda Breazeale on farmers and fire ants was very interesting. As a recent transplanted Northerner I had much to learn about fire ants and I learned the hard way.

In moving to a sub-tropical climate I thought the heat and humidity were my main concerns. To my surprise that adjustment was not difficult. Fire ants, however, are another story.

My first contact with the little critters is one I will not forget. It was a cool fall day and I was working in my garden without a care in the world. Suddenly, I felt a sensation on my legs. I looked down to see an army of fire ants double timing it up my pant legs. Having heard horror stories about these small stinging insects I dashed into the garden shed…and shed my pants, shoes and socks. Like a person on fire…and I was, I brushed frantically at my legs and used my jeans as a beater. About to sprint to the house I saw my husband chatting with a neighbor. Quickly I pulled on my jeans and made a made a dash to the house, grabbed a box of baking soda and ran into the bathroom. If baking soda can soothe bee stings, it should surely work on ants (I thought). I stripped and jumped into the shower. Cool water followed by baking soda on the red welts that were spreading up my legs came next. I popped a couple Benadryl tablets. The welts intensified and patches appeared on my arms. I felt like I was going into shock so I called my new doctor. Receptionist said she would call back. No call came. By now I am frantic with pain and pulled out the frozen peas and whatever else I could find to put on the swelling. I cannot tell you how much time passed before a semblance of normalcy returned. It seemed like an eternity. It was only then that I saw only seven raised bites. Amazing! The power of such a small insect. If seven bites could do such damage, I hate to think of what could happen to a child.

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Today I sit here at my computer with a burning, itching ankle. Why didn’t I wear tall boots? Ants win again.

Tammy Mokray