Birdwatchers have a life list of birds they want to see. I, unfortunately, am ticking off a list of different type — arthropods that have bitten me. So far, I’ve been bitten or stung by ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, chiggers, a wasp, a bee, a horsefly and now fire ants. Please no more bug bites! When I was a kid, one of the scariest movies I saw was “The Naked Jungle,” about an attack of army ants on a South American plantation.
Recently, I was photographing roses in a Texas rose garden in when my sandal-clad feet started to itch. I looked down and saw tiny ants milling over my feet. I brushed them off, did some scratching and thought that was the end of it. Most ants rush to protect their queen when an invader (me, in this case) appears, but fire ants, an invader to North America, attack. They inject a toxin when they sting.
My brother-in-law, whose legs are peppered with the tiny scars of fire ant bites, told me that fire ant bites produce pustules. I looked at my toes. No sign of any damage. But then three days later, the pustules appeared. They are more ugly than painful, although they do hurt and itch. There goes my career as a foot model.
Now I know why Texans wear cowboy boots, even if they never get near a horse or cow. About Fire Ants.