18 October, 2012

Freakin' Aints

This morning, just past 5:25 AM, as I do most mornings, I went out onto the back porch to 'suit-up' the 'walking' doggies (there's always a 'stay-home' doggie).

By 'suit-up' I mean get the dog's packs on them and hook the dogs up to their leashes so we can begin our trek into town to check the mail (if the post office was open the previous day). It also entails a stop at the market if we need to get fruit, veggies, or bones, or perhaps the Mennonite vendors who set up shop on 6th Avenue (to avoid paying for a stall in the market proper, or the Mexican bakery outlet, or Vivi's Meat Pies, or the taco stand in front of Gomez' Cemento Maya.

This is not your normal fun-time walkies that 'pet' dogs enjoy. This is a working dog's walk. They have to earn their keep by carrying some or all of the above pretty much every day. It's a dog's life, I'll tell ya.

Except for this morning. As I stepped out onto the back porch, I was immediately attacked by a horde of small, angry ants, who were determined that I was not going to advance any further onto the porch, which they were claiming as their territory. The fact that the dogs have their beds there, their food bowls, and a good selection of already gnawed bones apparently didn't enter into the discussion.

In fact, it was the bones that were the 'bone of contention' you might say. The ants had decided that there was still plenty of good stuff to be gotten off of those bones and they were defending to the death their fellows who were actively trying to carry off all of the bones on the porch.

I immediately dropped the packs and leashes on the driveway. This is after I had leaped and jumped around for a bit on the porch itself, and down the stairs to the driveway, trying to figure out just what the hell was attacking me.

I ran around to the front porch to see how far they may have gotten into the house. I knew by now it wasn't army ants (they're usually not this aggressive). Dianna had heard me yelping and had come into the kitchen and was looking to see if she could see the ants. There were a few in the kitchen, but mostly, they were still confined to the back porch.

Dianna handed me a can of Bop bug spray (we either use Bop or Baygone which I call 'Be Gone'), which I promptly started to off the little buggers with abandon. I sprayed the blankets, the floor, and then it was about this time that I actually saw that they were really interested in the bones and not much else. I grabbed the small trash can by Dianna's herb nursery on the porch and began pitching bones into to it. The idea being that I was going to collect all the bones and dispose of them out at the trash bin - which is exactly what I did.

Needless to say, that by this time, a morning walk for the girls was out of the question. Surprisingly enough, the ant bites only resulted in some minor itching and no serious hard little blisters like the wee wee ants seem to be able to dispense easily. In fact, after about 10 minutes or so, even the itching went away.

We continued with the 'Bop' extermination program for a few more minutes. I threw the dog's packs, leashes and blankets down the stairs to the driveway with the intention of washing all of it to sort of, have a clean start.

Once I bagged up the bones and pitched them into the trash bin, it seems that the event wound down. The ants quickly diminished in number and life soon returned to normal with the exception that there was no walk this morning. But everyone will have clean beds, packs, and leashes to start the day tomorrow. We're all looking forward to that adventure.

Here's the latest on our breaking story about the ants. I was wrong about not having much reaction to the ant bites - it just took time, like several hours for the bite blisters to show up.

And man, did they nail me. As you can see below, my feet really got hit. This is, by far, the most number of ant bites I have received at any one time in the more than five years that we've been here.
8 on the Left Foot 10 on the Right
I got about the same number on my right hand. My left hand only got about 3 or 4.
Only 10 Bites On My Right Hand
What's just strange with these things is that they tend to take weeks to completely heal up. In fact, sometimes, the scars stay for much longer. I have three dark scars on my right foot from ant bites I got about eight or nine months ago.

The bites themselves aren't painful. Oh sure, the initial bite when the little bugger is nailing hurts quite sharply, but once you knock them off, that goes away. Then you usually have some relatively minor itching, and in this latest, as I said, it was several hours till the bite results showed up in the form of a small blister that forms a really hard central nub. Once the blister forms, the itching seems to go away, which is some relief.

Probably not the best medical practice, but there is a certain satisfaction in breaking the little blisters. Then you just deal with the nub forever and a day. Sometimes the little blisters break all by themselves with no assistance from yourself. Nothing that time and patience can't heal.

Now we return to your regularly scheduled programming. Thanks for tuning in.


catdance62 said...

Sounds like fire ants to me. We can't leave our dog's food on the porch here in the spring/summer/fall unless we make a "moat" to float the bowl in, or put fire ant granules around the base of the bowl, because they'll be all up in it in a matter of no time. Anything with any kind of protein, fat, or sweet on it on the ground is fair game. I even had them in the house this year once, and that was the first time that happened since the mid 90s--that time they got all in the clothes in our closet. It was during a drought, ad we've been having a drought here since last year. I hate fire ants! I wish whatever is in Belize that keeps them moderately under control would come here!

JRinSC said...

They are everywhere, everywhere. I counted 107 fire ant mounds in the vacant (60 homes built out of 213 lots) and common areas the other day on one of my walks.

All I try to do now is keep 'em out of my yard and the next lot over... just a small buffer.

Did read that they found a fly that only plants it's egg in the head of the fire ant.. which, of course, kills the ant. Once the population of ants goes down... so, in theory, follows the fly population. Wonder how that's gonna end up??


Dave Rider said...

Hi Cat,

I think you're right. It sure seemed like these guys were pissed at me from the get-go. Last count, I got over 30 bites instantaneously. People here seem to be able to cause them to move a little bit, but eradicate them? Hah!


Hi Julian,

That's way too many ant piles. They do seem to stay at manageable levels here, just that they want to be in the same areas as us.