Floating Fire


I grew up in southwest Florida. Believe me, you don’t know bugs until you’ve lived in the south. The cockroaches are huge, and they fly. The spiders are huge, too. And then there are the fire ants.

Florida used to be all swamp, and during the rainy summers it tries to revert back to its former state. Every year my backyard would flood, and sometimes the whole neighborhood would be submerged under a couple inches of water. While there were distinct drawbacks to this (such as issues with the septic tank – enough said) as a kid I loved splashing through the neighborhood, even wading into the deeper water of the ditches. I would never do this now, knowing what sorts of bacteria and parasites that water was likely teeming with (septic tank – enough said), but then it was fun, like a huge natural kiddie pool.

Except for the ants.

When the neighborhood flooded, the fire ants were flooded out of their hills. To survive, they would clump together in a big floating ball. Imagine wading in waist deep water…and running into a floating fortress of fire ants. Accidentally stepping on a fire ant hill was bad enough…fire ant bites are terribly painful, and people have died from too many…but imagine them suddenly crawling all over you, taking a respite from their watery tribulations to bite every bit of skin they can get their pincers on. 

Give me the e. coli and flukes. Balls of fire ants are the worst.

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