Monday, September 6, 2010


Art & I were sitting on the swing on our back veranda, enjoying an early cup of coffee, when he found an ant under his shirt. OK, we've been living here a year so we don't freak out about a little ant. A couple of minutes later Art yelled, "Oh my gosh" and I looked up to see the deck alive with MILLIONS of black ants. They were all moving in one direction towards where we were sitting. Ick, ick! It hadn't been more than 15 minutes since I'd swept the veranda. I dashed in the house to get bug spray and started attacking the moving horde. Art took a can and headed under the house. If you've read much of my blog you know that we built a single wall, wooden house on concrete pillars. Ants were marching up the pillars by the thousands. We hollered for Rene, who was working just below the house, for his help. He's so calm and cool. At first he tho't they were wee wee ants, which eat the plants down to nothing, but after he watched them he realized that they were Army ants, also known as Cleaner ants. We were going thru cans of bug spray like crazy when Rene said it was much cheaper and easier to mix up a batch of Dersban and spray the whole underneath of the house.

We really appreciate Rene as he's basically a pacifist. Unlike most Belizeans, he believes in leaving things alone that aren't doing any harm. When Art was walking Bailey, earlier, he had seen some ants crossing the road. We now know that if we'd taken action we could have prevented them from coming into the house, but we didn't know it then. Anyway, Art & Rene tracked them back up to the road and Rene ceased spraying. The ants were turning back into the bush.

Rene told us that the colonies get large and a second queen will develop and then there'll be a war. One queen will leave, taking her followers with her to form a new colony. They can travel for several miles looking for a new home. He told Art to stop and watch and in the long line of ants came a large, black ant will yellowish wings. We were glad that we hadn't killed the queen.

If we had known more, we could have gotten ahead of this army of ants and put down a white rope and directed the ants around the house without having to kill them, but once they were up on the house we had to fight back.

Rene had already told us stories about the Army, or cleaner ants, but I still couldn't deal with them in my house. If they get in, many Belizeans will just move out for a day and let the ants go thru their house. These ants kill all other bugs and literally clean the house. Again, Ick, ick! When I was under the house, I did see a scorpion racing madly to get away. I didn't give it a chance. I sprayed it and squashed it!!! I really hate scorpions.

We are learning so much, but have so much more to learn. Rene just chuckles and reminds us that this is the jungle. That means bugs.

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