Friday, August 7, 2009

Macro Photography With a Touch of Pacino

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

As I walked to the kitchen, a couple of mornings ago, I took a second, as I always do, to admire the view of the mountains to the south and the horses waiting for breakfast. I was delighted to see that the first rose had bloomed on the rose bush that The Husband planted a couple of months ago. Naturally, I was excited about getting out to the patio for a closer look and maybe even a photograph before the wind picked up.

In my enthusiasm for the delicate new rose, not to mention the hollyhocks, the geraniums, and the sweet wild daisies, I began wandering about in the untamed area off the patio. It is, unfortunately, typical of me that I was looking through the viewfinder and not thinking about my feet. I took my time enjoying all the offerings of our little yard and was headed back inside to prepare breakfast and begin the day when I felt a sharp stabbing pain under my left arm and a strange burning sensation that rushed across my upper body in the direction of my breastbone. It was like nothing I had ever felt before and stopped me in my tracks. I said to The Husband that I felt strange and sat down. Within seconds, I felt another of the pricks on the right side just below my waist and once again the burning sensation ran toward the center of my body. I was feeling pain—although minor and mostly peculiar when The Husband got up and said, “Don’t move. There’s something in your hair.”

Well, let’s cut to the chase now. I had stepped in an ant bed and the little suckers were getting even with me. After my shower with the ant-infested clothes safely in the washer and an antihistamine in me, I looked at the ant bed The Husband wanted to point out to me. (It’s pretty obvious, by the way. Just a stupid moment on my part.)

I didn’t get any photographs because almost the moment I stepped outside the wind had picked up and I had to wait a couple of days for my photographs. But, I learned that the ants we have at our place are large, mean, and pack a sting that my immune system doesn’t handle well.

It turns out my attackers are Harvester ants. (While doing research on the web I found this charming little tidbit at : “Red Harvester Ants can be aggressive and have a painful sting that spreads through the lymph nodes, sometimes causing reactions, especially in those allergic to their venom. In addition to their potent sting, Red Harvester ants can bite ferociously.” I can vouch for the accuracy of this information as well as the fact that they are creepy ugly.)

I may not know much about these beasts, but I know this: I want them dead. I want their mothers dead. I want their fathers dead. I want them all dead. I can deal with the ground squirrels that eat flowers and burrow under fence posts and the house, for crying out loud. Heck, they are cute and I am a little attached to the one who has the penthouse outside the window. But, the ants? Those guys bring out the killer instinct in me.

This morning, I got brave enough to once again venture out to the wilds and actually got some pictures. This time I didn’t make a move without checking first to see where I was about to put my feet.


  1. Anita
    This sure sounds scary, your description of feeling the bites - shudder! Guess the antihistamine had kicked-in and you managed a good night's rest. Macro photo, mandibles and all awaited ;-)

  2. Anil-I certainly was puzzled, since it was a completly unfamiliar sensation; but I learned a good lesson. I was lucky I stepped on an ant bed. It could have been a rattlesnake. This is not a good place to walk around ignoring the ground beneath you.

  3. Dang, Anita! You do have some adventures! Sheesh! I'm glad that you are alright. I guess that it did teach you to watch where you are walking! :-)

  4. Anita, I'm glad you were at home and not out where you couldn't get a quick remedy--shower and antihistamine! My wife passionately hates ants, for no reason she can logically explain, but because of this I've become the harbinger of death for them in our yard. What we do to keep the peace! ~grin~

    I'm not a pink type of guy but I like the softness of this pink rose.

    - from Earl at

  5. Earl - As you can guess, I messed up and had to copy and paste your comment without the link. Sorry I am a klutz.

    I suppose it might make some kind of sense that an ant-slayer wouldn't be a pink sort of guy. But, I won't tell my husband that because I like the couple of pink shirts he has. Besides, I think you might get a pass on this rose, because it has only a slight amount of pink and even an ant-slayer is entitled to a wee bit of a soft side.

  6. Well, we all seem to get more and more alergic against those creatures. I suppose the mosquitos around have not changed since my childhood, but my reactions have. The pure thought of living at a lake or pond hurts :)

    I'm feeling with you!

    From Andreas at:

  7. Andreas - You can see that I did the same dumb thing with your comment. I have no viable excuse—just a clumsy goof-up.

    I had certainly never had such a reaction to something as insignicant as an ant sting, for goodness sake. I grew up getting chewed on by all sorts of pesky insects and never seemed any the worse for wear as a result. I supspect that our immune systems begin to weaken along with other parts, unfortunately.

    Since I never was fond of mosquitos feasting on me, I share your feelings about life on a lake or pond. Not my idea of a dream location.

  8. Paul - Ssh. This is just between you and me: The things that happen in my life are pathetically dull, but I tell stories about what little does happen and it seems that if I use that many words it must have been an adventure.

    Short version: "One day this week I stepped in an ant bed. Some of the ants were ticked off and stung me. The stings smarted and I felt slightly funny for a while, but I'm fine." Now, that's not much of a story and you wouldn't have bothered to read it, but you see that I was forced to work with the biggest news I had. It's pretty sad, isn't it? But, it sure is peaceful. :)

    You can bet that I am paying very close attention these days.It was a cheap lesson.

  9. Yikes. Talk about having things in common, Anita. I am just recovering myself from a wayward insect attack. My assailants were yellow jackets, apparently driven to aggressive behavior by recent deluges of rain. I ended up walking away from the doctor with an Epi-pen and two rounds of antibiotics due to a staph infection.

    Needless to say, I feel your pain. Literally! I hope you are recovering well, Anita. Stay away from the ant beds--your husband should destroy them, as did mine the dreaded yellow jackets. Good role for the husbands--evil insect killers :)

    Oh, and by the way--beautiful rose and enjoy your writing, as always! Take care. Mary Ann

  10. Mary Ann - Goodness. We certainly are on similar tracks, but your experience was truly serious while mine qualified as only curious and instructive. Thank goodness you got medical attention. I hope you are recovering successfully and pain free as soon as possible.

    I agree that husbands are wonderful dragon-slayers,or insects will do—Earl can vouch for that.

  11. I have experienced the pain of insect bites and stings many times as I spent my professional life working in the woods as a forester. I remember a time many years ago while working in the brush; I was alerted to the unmistakable buzz of bees. Few things bring more fear to a forester than being attacked by bees! We were always told to freeze when in the presences of the little critters, so being young and dumb, I followed instructions. As I stood frozen in place, it suddenly occurred to me that I was actually standing on the entrance to the bee’s nest which had been built below the surface of the ground. I faced a dilemma, if I moved my foot; the angry bees would be free to inflict pain upon my body. On the other hand, I could not stand there until they died off in November as it was only early July. I finally decided it was time to make a run for it, so with arms flailing, I ran with everything I had. By the time I was safely out of the area, I had been stung several times but actually did more damage to my body while flailing my arms in an attempt to knock the bees away.

  12. Steve - Wow! It's a good thing you didn't have an allergic reaction to the bee stings. I am a bit ashamed to say that your scary story got amusing with your description of the desperate dash and flailing arms. Finally, it sounds as though you, too, learned to pay more attention to where you were standing.

    I am guessing that you have a great number of fascinating stories after years of being a forester.

  13. Oh, allergy to ants were new to me. We have a variant of theose red ones where I live too. Nasty little creatures.

    It reminds me of an incident from two years ago. I had been taken some photographs on a hill and were on may way down again when I slipped and fall right on the stone. I fell really hard but managed to get down on safe ground, where I lay down in the grass and fainted away for a few minutes I guess. When I woke up, I first didn't feel anything else that the odd sensation it normally is to wake up from being passed out. Having come to life I realised another painful sensation, and that was not my back hurting from the impact with the stone. I was lying in an ant bed, and these ants were big (half of an inch), thought not red but still very aggresive. That was a painful experience in many ways. Today it's even possible to laugh about it. :)

    The rose seems wonderful, it fully explains why you were wondering around without thinking where you put your feets.

  14. Ove - Good grief, Ove, your story is pretty scary. You are so fortunate that you didn't break something. It's strange, isn't it, how we can look back on those near-misses in our life and find the humor in a truly dangerous situation? Thank goodness for our sense of humor, right.

    These two rose bushes should bring us many lovely blossoms. They are quite delicate in color for the bold landscape, but I think my husband made a good choice. I just hope the deer and ground squirrels will take pity on us and spare the young plants. If the critters give me a chance, I expect I will have more rose-photos in the future.


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