Loosely translated, the Spanish name is Surly; Portuguese, Wash Foot. Texans call them Fire Ants. In case you are not from Texas or other country harassed by these devilish little beasties, let me tell you they are well-named.
Situation one, for lesson one. You are strolling the grounds of your little Texas hill-country acre, surveying with immense satisfaction the past week’s handiwork. “Ah, that lovely ‘Belinda’ rose, have you ever seen such gorgeous blooms? First of the season. There are hundreds it seems and look, dozens more, ready to burst open. You should count them. But first, just one quick sniff.
You stop, you bend over. They are heaven. Suddenly your feet and legs are on fire. You hop, you holler, you head for the water hose. You squirt, you scrub, you kick off your shoes. You track down that one last baby in a death clinch between your toes trying to pass as a freckle.
Lesson one, the first part of that sentence where I said, “You stop… ?” That was wrong. In Texas outdoors, summertime - you never stop.
Situation two, for lesson two. Grandchildren from Pennsylvania are here - more grandchildren from ranch down the road a piece have joined them. All are having a happy time on your little Texas hill-country acre, rolling in grass with the dog, picking unripe tomatoes, chasing chickens, and getting their hair all sweaty.
You hear outrageous yells somehow different from other yells you have been hearing today. If you are a Texas grandma, you are a yell expert and you know. It’s the fire ants. Now which set of yells do you tear out after first? You guessed it, the Pennsylvania set. Their yells carry not only outrage but an extra note of surprise to guide you unerringly in their direction. The Texas kids are outraged without the surprise element and have already commandeered the water hose. They know.
Lesson two, when you have out of state guests, especially short ones, best educate them adequately (is such possible?) for fire-ant prevention. “Wear boots without socks rather than tennies with because you can get those off faster. Sandals? They have other problems. Just wear boots. Watch for small, medium, or mammoth-size dark knolls; avoid them. Some will have a substance like beige cornmeal across the top; avoid those also: the beige cornmeal didn’t work. Running in circles screaming doesn’t help. Running for the water hose does.”
Situation three, for lesson three. It’s a WARM, humid day on your little Texas hill-country acre, but you are ecstatic. You finally nagged hubby into hauling out the old mulcher/chipper to get at those piles of small branches and leaves you have been saving. You squelched the last of his excuses “it didn’t come with a catcher-bag” by sewing one yourself of sturdy burlap.
“Oh, dear. These piles have been here so long, - at least an hour - fire ants have taken them over. Oh, well. We’ll just run the little buggers right on through along with small branches and leaves. They’ll never know what hit ‘em.”
Facts for lesson three - Oh yeah? They knew. The fire ants knew. Fire ants will go in mulcher/chippers mad; they come out in a towering rage. Chopped sticks and leaves whizzing out of mulcher/chipper at mach 8 hurt bare legs; chopped insects in the mix hurt worse.
Actual lesson. If you plan on sending fire ants through your mulcher/chipper make sure you have the correct bag, factory ready, not some home-made burlap thing that will slide off the OUT-door nozzle first pop out of the box. Wear chaps and boots, not shorts and flip-flops.
And remember, running in circles screaming doesn’t help. Running for the water hose does.
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