I have fallen victim once again to the scourge of the South.

I had finished setting up a low-volume automatic watering system for the front flower bed yesterday and thought I’d take a few moments to pull some weeds. I didn’t spot the fire ant mount because it was hiding under the mulch. Little bastards coordinated their attack and hit both my hand and my ankle at the same time. Twelve stings on my hand and wrist, fourteen more on my ankle.

I know, people like to call them “bites,” but the truth is that it’s both a relatively harmless bite combined with a very effective sting. If you’ve never had the joy of being stung by a fire ant, you should know that they are aptly named. It does feel like little needles of fire piercing your skin. I’ve been stung by a scorpion, a true bug, and several species of wasps. Each has their own brand of pain. Fire ants, taken individually, aren’t that bad. Their trick is the coordinated attack so you’re never being stung just once.

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So, if you ever come to the South, watch out for the ants. They can be vicious.