My husband and I were enjoying a beautiful park in our neighborhood one afternoon, shortly after our move here. We had decided to take the kids with us and introduce them to some of the scenery in the area.
This particular park does not have a playground but does have a large green space surrounded by a concrete walkway, and is shaded by large, old trees. This is a perfect spot, some 6.5 acres, to fly a kite, toss a Frisbee or just allow the children to run free.
It was during this play time I spotted an ant hill and decided to show my daughter how industrious those little ants can be. After all, my siblings, cousins and I had spent countless hours as children watching the little bugs marching in and out of their hills on the sidewalks back in the Midwest. That was just one of our many summertime fun activities.
Holding my toddler daughter’s hand in mine, we sidled up as close to that ant hill as we could get without stepping on it or any of the ants. I was really proud of my efforts to get us ringside seats. The lesson was going quite well, I thought, until she started crying, then screaming.
I had no idea what was wrong or how to react. Fortunately, my husband was close by and ran over to investigate. Right away, he pulled off her pants, socks and shoes, leaving her in her top and diaper, and started vigorously brushing bugs off her skin with his hand. Turns out they were fire ants and a couple of them had crawled up my daughter’s leg and bit her.
I have since learned that most of the ants you will come into contact with here in Florida are fire ants, not at all like the area where I grew up. The normal ants up there were just a nuisance, especially if they found a way into a person’s home. The only ants you had to worry about there were the big, black ones that liked to hang out in the peony bushes. Now those ants would bite you!
I wish someone would have cautioned me about fire ants before heading outdoors.
One way to help soothe the skin immediately after a person has been bitten is to rinse it with cold water.