Owies and Itchies


On an ordinary March afternoon in this land of sunshine just thirty-three degrees north of the equator, birds were singing special spring songs, and strong urges permeated the air.   The annual planting compulsion hit me and I started digging in the dirt. With my mind’s eye on a beautiful Jessamine at the garden center, I decided to build a new flower bed along the south side of the garage.

Last fall I bought a Bougainvillea vine, thinking it was an Oleander bush, and I’ve been babying it all winter, carrying it in on cold nights. It was blooming and I couldn’t wait to get it in the ground and out of my kitchen. I would put the yellow Jessamine and the pink Bougainvillea on opposite sides of the same wire arch. The Rosemary could come out of its crowded pot and sit in the middle. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

I dug a deep hole, backfilled it and tenderly tamped and mulched the vine while it scratched me viciously up to my elbows. (Funny that it didn’t have thorns when I bought it, disguising itself as an Oleander.) I planted the Rosemary and scooped a shovelful of grass to mark the home for the as-yet-to-be-obtained Jessamine.

As I watered the entire area to soften things up just a bit for the next day, I avoided the ants scurrying at one end of my new flower bed. Texas ants can be notably unpleasant!

The next morning, I repaired the holes a varmint had dug at the base of the two plants I’d set out. The beautiful Bougainvillea repaid me by adding two new scratches to my sore hands.

The third hole was much easier to dig, thanks to the overnight soak. It was dangerously close to the ant home, though. I knew they would have to be dealt with.

At the end of a long shovel handle, I felt confident enough to disturb the status quo. I scooped and the ants scurried. Hoping they’d simply go away, I flooded their home with the garden hose.

Three terrible Texas ants somehow found the top of my socks and put six stings on me before I could get to them. I wondered if they knew I was the one wreaking havoc on their home or if they simply stung whatever they came in contact with.

I made sure I didn’t have any more unwelcome crawlies on me but ant stings don’t hurt that much and I went about my business, cleaning up my tools and putting things away. An hour later, I had one more sting on my knee.

Ant stings itch and burn. Within hours, they blister. For days, they flare up, ooze and itch like mad. It wasn’t long before my ankles looked like I’d contracted a tropical disease.

Meantime, the Bougainvillea scratches scabbed over and my arms looked like I’d confronted a feral cat.

Between the owies and the itchies and a spell of cooler weather, the Jessamine waits yet at the garden center. The ants are happy in Texas.

Ant that stings; one of many!

Ant that stings; one of many!
Photo by April Nobile, on http://www.antweb.org

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About janets123

Children's writer, newspaper columnist, essayist, poet, storyteller
This entry was posted in Short Takes on Life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Owies and Itchies

  1. OOh, and a photo too! Wow, sounds like you have been invaded and from more than one direction. I was so looking forward to spring and gardening but perhaps the forecast and the thought of more snow on Monday is not so disturbing. Hope you heal quickly. Did I ever mention, I don’t like creatures things that crawl, creep or fly?

  2. maragen says:

    Tom and I buy Equal for our ants. We heard from internet rumors that it was developed as a pesticide so it makes sense. We stir the ants up and use the canister to sprinkle a bunch of [Aspartame] on them. Next day there aren’t nearly so many. The following day there are few, if any. After that you can’t find them. I hear that cedar oil is also very damaging to ants. You get the essential oil and pour it down the hole then flood with water. Good luck!!!

    • janets123 says:

      Thanks for the tip, Maragen. I fed Equal to the ants & they are *mostly* gone now. I’m also using cedar mulch, which seems to repel lots of things, including skunks & armadillos. The Jessamine is looking good!

  3. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would wantHaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

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