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Fire-Ant Attack

I’m thinking the other day that times are tough enough, then I got bitten by fire ants, and I thought, yep, things can always get worse. Nasty little $#@*&$#@. I hate them. Apparently, looking at the red bumps on my leg, they feel the same way about me. I obviously stepped in a fire-ant mound on the golf course last week without realizing it. That’s the way fire ants work. They’re as stealthy as a church mouse. One minute, you’re feeling fine; the next minute, you feel something weird on your skin. You look down only to find both ankles covered in fire ants. Here’s the trick – with fire ants, you have to act quickly. When one of them sounds the alarm, they all bite at once. If you’re quick enough swatting them off of your skin, you can escape the worst of the pain they can deliver before they all chomp into your skin at once. After I moved to the Rio Grande Valley in 1979, I can’t remember how long it took before I got bitten by my first fire ant, but it couldn’t have been long. There I was out in the yard, cutting the grass, and who just poked me with 50 hot pokers? The pain. The searing pain. From one little ant? Well, okay, they travel in groups, so it’s typically not just one that bites you. I’ve often said, if you get enough fire ants up your pants – the literal interpretation of ants in your pants – you will drop your pants no matter where you are, no matter who is around. Man or woman, those ants are headed north, and that’s not a place you want them feasting. One bite includes searing pain. Ten bites become almost unbearable. I usually refer to the fire ant by a name unsuitable for a family newspaper. If you want to get scientific, however, they come from the genus Solenopsis. Unlike most ants, which bite and then spray acid on the wound (AKA, torture), the fire ant bites into your flesh so he/she can get a good grip before stinging you, which includes injecting a venom that produces a painful sting akin to being burned, hence the ants’ moniker – fire ants. In the southern U.S., including the RGV, the most common fire ant we see is known as the red imported fire ant. In the 1930s, some cargo ships from Brazil ...

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