I had forgotten about the fire ants until the other day. The wife and I happened to meet a man from Texas and, as I grew up in the Texas Panhandle, we made a connection. In the course of our visit, he mentioned a recent encounter with fire ants on his last trip to the Lone Star state. My memory went to work (it does that once in a while) and conjured up a memory of a day that I am surprised I had forgotten about. Maybe it was because of the terror of it all.
Now, for those who have not seen or encountered a fire ant colony (they are always in a colony), it is a sight to behold. I think I was about ten or eleven when I saw my first one. Fire ants are LARGE. You know everything is bigger in Texas but fire ants are bigger than that. I swear, some of them carry guns. They are large and they travel in the millions. They do! The colony I saw on that fateful day had a hill that was maybe six or eight inches tall. Do bear in mind that there are no hills in the Texas Panhandle so this particular ant hill was equal to a mountain. Anyway,
Gary and I were out in the field just west of my house on Hall Road on a sunny Saturday morning when we spotted the aforementioned colony. Neither of us had seen an ant colony before and nobody ever warned us against the violence that these malevolent creatures were capable of. So…in a blinding moment of dumb, Gary and I jumped right into the middle of the ant colony.
Eighty-eight million (that’s 88,000,000) madder than all get out red ants spewed forth from the damaged ant hill and all of them jumped on me and Gary. They all had new sharpened fangs that sank into every inch of skin on both of us. I ran away in screaming panic, slapped myself silly, rolled in the dirt, and did everything except set myself on fire to get these things off me. The pain was like stinging fire! I swear they were bound and determined to drag both of us into their ant hill and feed us to the Queen ant (we were later informed by somebody’s big brother that the queen ant was so big it could have swallowed us both in one gulp).
We were lucky that day. A couple of construction workers made us out to be little kids in that mass of feeding fire ants. They grabbed us and took us to the nearest house and hosed us down. They saved our lives and I am forever grateful. Course, Gary and I were so red from the 88,000,000 ant bites we looked like bruised apples. Never did hear the end of it in school.
And that’s the truth.