Invasion of the Ants

At the Dverse Lounge today, we’ve been asked to write about our fears. What follows is a true narrative of my ranch life:

I used to do battle with leaf cutter ants when I worked on the ranch in South Texas. Though theh are tiny, they are indeed a force to be reckoned with. They had somehow arrived in South Texas, and they loved the leaves of the Pecan orchard I tended. They would ford the small stream on leaves, 50 or 100 at a time. I would be fishing the creek and they could be seen in clusters on leaves riding the stream. They disembarked at a Cypress tree and would start looking to biuld a nest.
They build massive underground burroughs. The main mound is about 10 feet across. The ants also create pilot mounds in a radius of about 50 to 100 feet from the main mound. From these pilot mounds they would emerge in the night to raid my pecan trees. They would strip a tree of all its leaves in one night. The leaves would be taken back to the main den underground from the pilot mounds and stored there. The ants did not eat the leaves themselves, but rather dined on the fungus which grew on the decomposing vegetation.
There’s where the serious problem started. For as the mound filled with rotting vegetation, the gasses building up inside it would cause the internal structure of the mound to cavitate and collapse. There would be about two or three feet of soil left on top, which would support the weight of a man, but not a car, tractor, horse or cow. Our bosses favorite Tennessee Walker (horse), fell through the thin crust on top and had to be buried there. Many farmers have had to have tractors towed out of moundd and have been injured by crashing through the mound.

Little feet work fast
Farming in the dark of night
Morning brings a blight


24 thoughts on “Invasion of the Ants

    1. Waltermarks says:

      Thanks Toni. They were easy to kill. You would love it. We had an ag permit to buy mustard gas. Just pierce the crust with a digging bar, insert the hose, turn on the gas,put a bucket on top and haul butt

  1. kim881 says:

    When I first saw the words ‘leaf cutter ants’ an image of army ants popped up in my head and a scene from an old film where they had stripped a man down his bones in seconds. Then I realised that these are a different species, but just as clever, using leaves as rafts. Small but quite dangerous to farms and farm machinery!

  2. Beverly Crawford says:

    What a tale! I can just see the rafts of those devils cruising down the river to attack your pecan trees in the dead of night. Their demise is fitting, I must say. The haiku is well said!

  3. ladynyo says:

    OH God…we have red ants mounds all over. Instead of using pesticides, I throw raw grits down and when they eat, it makes them explode. One ant at a time. They sting and kittens have been killed by their bites. Horrible. But they have a role in evolution, though I don’t know what it is. Good one. Good haiku. Death to the Leaf-Cutters and Red Ants!

  4. Glenn Buttkus says:

    My in-laws live in Texas, and I have discovered that fire ants are not our friends. Once ants target your home, it takes an exterminator to eradicate them. I fought them for months in CA one summer; killing thousands, but had to pay a professional to complete the kill.

  5. Bodhirose says:

    I really enjoyed your story and was horrified to find out that a whole tree could be de-leafed overnight! Wow! I’m glad there seems to be an easy fix though…felt very bad about that poor horse. Like some others mentioned, fire ants are nasty and mean. Their bites are powerful and painful!

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