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Glenn MacGrady

Staff member
Oct 24, 2012
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I had just put in on the the Wacissa River (Florida) in a solo canoe, waiting for my family to get things together in two tandems. I was near an old rotted tree stump sticking out of the water. I leaned my hand against it for stability while I waited. Within a minute, my hand felt on FIRE with pain. It was crawling with dozens of fire ants, and hundreds more were swarming out of the stump.

Anaphylactic shock alert! I swished my arm in the water, got rid of the buggers, paddled away, and waited to die.

I didn't.

If you don't recognize fire ant hills on the ground, you could be stepping into a heap of medical trouble in the AmSouth. But who knew they would be inside an aquatic tree stump.

Horrid creatures.

Fire Ant.jpg
The fun part of fire ant bites is they inch and hurt for over a week.

Just hope it isn't on the first day of a long trip.
Nothing sneaky about blackflies, though.
Ants don't follow you and keep you company. lol. But any biting insect is unwelcome.
I'm very happy not to have had the fire ant experience, only the smaller inconvenient cousins, sidewalk ants and yellow meadow ants. Gardening and landscaping brings me into their territory every year, and although painful they are simply a nuisance.
I once lay down/collapsed on my back on a fire ant colony after an all-out sprint effort on a bike. Took me a minute to figure out I'd done it, and I got bit a lot. I was 30 miles from town. Was a long ride home. Happily my crew was there to keep an eye on me. Anaphylactic shock was definitely a concern, and this was pre-cell phone, so who knows what might have happened. Fire ants are about the only creature I will kill if I find them in my yard. Well, yellow jackets too.
One more reason not to move to Florida !

I'll stick the Winters out here in Iowa !

Fire ants are easy to avoid but Northerners always forget to look down for telltale piles.
Now as for sandfleas ....
Fire ants are easy to avoid but Northerners always forget to look down for telltale piles.
I learned that lesson the hard way - wasn't familiar with fire ants until I moved to Louisiana almost 40 years ago. At a take-out somewhere in the Atchafalaya basin, don't remember just where, I needed a restroom but there wasn't a lot of privacy around. Decided I could make a quick run behind a few bushes while others were getting vehicles. Just as I was squatting down my foot started stinging and I looked down to see that one foot was planted right on a fire ant mound. I made a very hasty dash for the water as I was pulling up my shorts! Ended up with a swollen foot and ankle.