Fire Ants

Posted on | October 11, 2011 | 7 Comments

On Sunday, I worked out in the yard.  On my hands and knees, I ripped row after row of “grass” out from in front of my house, freeing the soft dirt beneath it and feeling the soak of soil against my fingers.

I love working out in the yard.  I love pulling on my filthy gardening gloves and making a difference in the appearance of my home.  But like everything else in life, even yard work comes with a price.  For me? The price of my yard work comes in the toll on my body.  I don’t mean the aches and pains of lifting and bagging and chopping at branches, though I often ache from those.  I mean a different sort of toll: a burning, itching, horror.  My yard is full to the brim with fire ants: large, red, angry ants who pepper my veins with their “Do Not Disturb” venom.

I’ve yet to figure out what purpose those ants serve in the grand scheme of life.  Do they fertilize plants? Do they ward off bad spirits? What do they do, precisely, other than tear up my yard and poison my skin?

Ever since we moved back to Macon, I have been trying my damndest to kill those ants.  I’ve sprayed and sprinkled and kicked and once, in a fit of desperation, even poured a touch of gasoline on a hill. (That was a bad choice, I know, but I was pissed.) No matter what I do, those ants just keep coming back.  I have probably “killed” seven mounds only to have them spring back up, fully functioning and mad as hell in a totally new spot of chaos.

It’s really ridiculous how adaptable they are.  They seem totally immune to everything I throw at them; taking it all in stride and just packing up shop and finding a new place to settle. Don’t get me wrong, they fight back.  Every time I spend any time at all in the yard, they put out an APB and suddenly my feet, legs, hands and arms are covered in bites.  And I hate them.  I hate every last one of them and wish that something, even the grits idea that the Lowes cashier told me, would get rid of them.

But at the same time, I have to admit I’ve developed a bit of a kinship with my fiery little nemises.  I have a grudging respect for their ability to work together, their need to forge ahead, and their persistence in surviving and indeed thriving in a place where they are not wanted, needed, or desired.

They aren’t much to look at.  I mean, they’re fire ants.  Who gets excited about fire ants other than when they’re biting you and you end up clawing at your skin like a cracked out hooker on the corner of a roadside in Orlando.  (Yeah, I’m looking at you, “Sophia”).  There’s nothing really remarkable about them at first glance.

But they have some kind of will to live. 

They have survived everything I’ve thrown at them.  They have found a way to thrive even when everything around them comes crashing down and they’re forced to move, again, to a new home, in an unfamiliar corner of the yard. 

Fire ants are survivors.  And they can be ferocious.

They might not be much to look at and they might not be the biggest or baddest being on earth, but let me assure you that when pissed off, fire ants can be your worst nightmare.  Yeah, I have a bit of respect for the little buggers.   And to be honest, I think maybe we belong together; me and my yard full of fiery red ants.  Because now that I think about, I’ll be honest… I don’t think I’d be all that offended if someone called us comparable.

(Dear fire ants: This is not an invitation to stay.  Just so you know, I admire you, but I will still bring you down.  That’s all.)


7 Responses to “Fire Ants”

  1. Mrs MidAtlantic
    October 11th, 2011 @ 9:01 am

    I stepped on a fire ant hill once as a child. It was horrendous. By the time the next door neighbor carried me inside, I had ants all the way up my neck. Ouch!

  2. savgypsy
    October 11th, 2011 @ 9:10 am

    Have you tried Diatamaceous Earth, its the organic way, and it works!

  3. Elizabeth@ourcrazysweetlife
    October 11th, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    You seem to have some fire ant in you as well, for all you’re handling and surviving! Love your blog and your honesty and your sharing.

  4. Adrianne Farr
    October 11th, 2011 @ 9:57 am

    My baby boy is so allergic to fire ants. He swells, and often his skin actually turns purple with poison and sloughs off. I am about to begin this same battle in my yard!

  5. MaconMom
    October 11th, 2011 @ 10:22 am

    So right. They are resilient, tough, and overwhelming.

    Pour boiling water on them. It works.
    You can also cornmeal. We would but our dogs would go after that like a treat (when they can bring themselves to actually go outside)!

    Good luck!

  6. Alecia
    October 11th, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

    I hate fire ants….being in the south, they are everywhere. We too struggle with them every season.

  7. Jennifer Williams
    October 12th, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

    Have you tried the over-n-out? It works for us.

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