In Florida: Paradise and the Ants

John Turner

Harvard Square Commentary, October 16, 2006

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We've all heard that in certain places nature is fecund. Yet a feature of natural fecundity often overlooked is lots of bugs.

In Florida, bugs are everywhere. And the most fierce and hostile to human comfort are ants. In many Florida backyards the anthills are beyond counting. No matter how carefully you try to avoid them, if you stay out in the yard long, the ants will get you. A single ant sting is painful.

The trouble is, though, you never get just one. By the time the little creatures have swarmed over your socks and onto your legs they're ready to deliver dozens of bites in seconds.

I've heard ladies say they were at the point of ripping off their dresses in public to get at the ants stinging them.

Occasionally, they invade a body to such an extent they make a person sick. They are, of course, especially dangerous for little children. An ant bite doesn't go away quickly. Some of them fester and itch for days.

So when you go out into a Florida yard, enjoy the sunshine and the bright blossoms. But be aware, also, of the threat lurking beneath your feet.

Paradise never comes undiluted.