An entertaining account of a first encounter with fire ants after moving to Texas.We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out. - Ray Bradbury
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My First Encounter with Fire Ants

An entertaining account of a first encounter with fire ants after moving to Texas.

Last year I moved to Texas for the warmer weather. I got here in May and had to build a fence. The first day I got a few bites and didn't think much about it. The second day I saw a lot of small, little red ants where the fence had to go. So I kicked them aside and planted another post hole in the ground. In that time they got past my boots and up my pants on my legs to my privates, and then I learned about fire!

I had over 40 red welts the size of peas on my body. It didn't take me long to strip down to see what was on me. Hundred of ants. It looked like I was the main dish for dinner. I stripped down. The man next door came over and turned the hose on me. His wife took me inside and put me in the shower. I lost my modesty that day if I had any left after the military.

She put calamine lotion on the bites. It helped. I got sleepy and went to bed early. I was itching bad all night long and doing the wrong thing, I scratched the bites. This I learned brings the blood to the area and the venom can spread to tissue that is not damaged yet. Then more pain.

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The next morning I could hardly see. My eyes were swelling shut. I learned with a quick call to 911 that I was having a reaction to the venom of the ant. I also learned that one red welt could be 10 bites. The ant locks onto you with its jaw area, but its stinger is down the body of the ant. So as it turns in a circle it keeps stinging you, until you kill it or it is tired of you and leaves you for another place to bite or you brush him off.

The hospital was a nice place to visit, but cost a lot. I came home looking as if George Forman and I had gone a few rounds. Well, George did the rounds and I took the blows! When I got home, my other neighbor lady came over to see what had happened to me. A car accident? You fell of the porch? Ants!  

"Oh, child," she said, "you need to soak in a tub with some old fashion Borax soap." It was the kind from when I was a kid and 20 Mule Team was a great TV hour. About 3 cups in a tub, and it is not slippery either. It is a mineral bath I found out. It draws out the venom if you get in the tub right away and you don't have to do the above and pay the cost.

I thank God for my older neighbors. Their knowledge of simple ways to deal with ants and the rest of the insects of TX is great.  

So there you have it. My learning curve with nature in Texas. And to think I moved here from Everett, WA just so I could learn about life in another part of the country.  

Johnny McCall
Springtown, TX

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