When I got home last night, I discovered that a colony of the dreaded fire ant has set up shop under the carport right beside where I park my car. Of all the places they could pick to build their dream home, they chose the spot directly next to my driver's side door, so that I have to step over it to get in and out of my car.
Fire ants love me as well. I am the queen of the insects, their much-desired Venus. Maybe that is why I can't even escape them when I'm indoors.
At our first house (not-so-affectionately known as "the shack"), we had a serious ant infestation. Not fire ants this time, but the harmless little black ones I once admired. Awww, look at the charming little creatures busy about their work.
After living in the shack for a while, I began to hate the little buggers with a fiery passion. There was actually a group of them living in our wall. At any given moment, there was a two-lane highway of ants streaming to and from somewhere in my house. They got into the sugar canister and the box of strawberry Pop Tarts. There were always several crumpled black ant bodies littering the countertop, particularly behind the sink. Outside, they traveled in long lines all the way around the house.
One day I came home after a hard day and saw them writhing blackly all over the place. I became filled with righteous indignation. I had asked Darwin to take care of them a dozen times, and yet he never did! They were unstoppable!
I stormed inside the house and fetched the bug spray we (make that I) used monthly to beat back the roaches and spiders and ants. I became a crazed maniac, spraying at the lines of ants scurrying along the porch steps, around the foundation, up the side of the house, along the eaves. Everywhere, EVERYWHERE!
I felt like Rambo. Take that, ants! Rat-a-tat-tat with my machine gun ... um, spray gun. Right and furious and a little teary with it. This is my house! DIE, ANTS!
Finally, I collapsed, spent and bleary-eyed from the mist of poison falling back down on me when I tried to spray the eaves. The fire drained out of me, and then I felt guilty, sitting in my house surrounded by little ant corpses.
Now that I'm thinking back on it, The Massacre at Hwy. 69 North, I realize that marked the end of my guilt-free bug-killing days. I never enjoyed crunching roaches or spiders with my shoe, but now I refuse to do it. Once recently I demanded that Darwin kill a red wasp that was sitting in the grass by our house. "It'll just get into the house," I said, because we do have a problem with wasps on our windows.
But as soon as he squished the thing, grinding it into the ground with his shoe, I felt sick. Guilty. Here I am a month later still agonizing about it. What is wrong with me?
I hate them and yet ... maybe I don't. If they aren't bothering me - if they are just buzzing around in the outdoors minding their own business - who am I to end their lives?
If a mosquito lands on me to bite, I don't hesitate to smack his little ass into oblivion. And those fire ants outside my car door have GOT to go.
But I'm finding peace with the insect world. A couple of weeks ago, Darwin and I spread out a picnic blanket in the grass of the backyard to read magazines in the sun. Honeybees buzzed all around us in the clover, and yet I wasn't afraid. I watched them, enjoying this up-close look, sans screaming and batting around my head frantically with my arms.
Then we saw a show on TV about killer bees and how they will be here soon, infiltrating our hives of peaceful little honeybees. I hope the show was sensationalizing it. If not, maybe then my make-love-not-war days will end.