‘Celebrating’ a painful pest — the fire ant
Last week after the rain, the fire ants came back. They crawled up from somewhere down below — from hell most likely. When the sun came out, their tiny toxic bodies swarmed silently over soft mounds of dirt as fine as coffee grounds.
In the annals of entomology, few insects are as despised as the fire ant.
I’ve heard a fire ant stings and bites at the same time. All I know is that a close encounter with a fire ant feels like getting poked with a red hot sewing needle, whichever end of the ant is involved.
For a creature not much bigger than a pin head, a fire ant packs a wallop. It is amazing how something so small can cause such misery.
Not much can soothe a fire ant bite, although I am told rubbing it with ice helps. Or maybe a little alcohol.
A Llano County rancher described his method of treatment to me one lazy afternoon at the Castell General Store. Rub a cold bottle of beer on the ant bite, take a drink, and repeat until the pain is gone.
Government and private researchers have spent millions to kill the little boogers with little to show for their efforts. One ant dies and a thousand take its place.
Scientists have tried scalding them with hot water, dowsing them in vinegar and drowning them in Dawn dishwashing liquid. One scientist in Alabama fed them grits. The idea was that the grits would expand in the stomach and the ants would explode.
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