I’m getting fired up about summer

Spring has sprung here in the South! It’s a two week period when the temperatures and humidity are both below 90. This weekend, yards, parks, hiking trails and beaches will be filled with Southerners at work and play in the warm sunshine. However, those same people will soon be running to Wal-Mart or Home Depot for the necessary weapons and armor for battling the season of swatting, slapping, spraying and scratching, which usually lasts from April to November.

The mid-April arrival of no-see-ums,mosquitoes, gnats, palmetto bugs, hornets, bees, flies, and fleas is our signal that spring is over and summer is upon us. Even after so many years of living down here, such an early onset strikes me the same as hearing Christmas carols when shopping for Halloween candy. I’ve learned to keep a fly swatter, citronella candles and oil, Skin So Soft and cortisone cream handy whenever I’m outdoors.

Archenemy No. 1 among these pests is, of course, the fire ant. They double the risks of going barefoot because their massive mounds punctuate our spiky centipede grass lawns. And they don’t need a reason to attack. You can be sitting on your front porch stoop minding your own business when a single fire ant will decide to leave the nest, crawl across the sidewalk, up your leg and then – Zzzzzzt! – set your leg on fire. The resulting itch begins immediately, and within a few hours you have ant on lega nasty, itchy pustule disfiguring your lovely tanned leg. You will scratch it open (risking infection!) approximately five times over the next week before it heals.

I’m allergic to fire ants. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out in my yard or garfire ant on bootden and unwittingly stepped into a mound that wasn’t there the day before. I doubt even Usain Bolt can run as fast I do for the Benadryl when that happens.

Fire ants are a Southern pest but are slowly making their way north  toward the Mason-Dixon Line. Is that the South’s revenge for Gen. Sherman’s fiery march? Not surprisingly, despite proof to the contrary, many Southerners swear that grits are an effective deterrent in the war against fire ants. I’m not sure if Cream of Wheat will do the trick, but I’m sure we’ll eventually find out.

Take a look at this bona fide Southern belle telling her fire ant story to Ellen. It could happen to anyone.

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5 thoughts on “I’m getting fired up about summer

  1. That Kellie Pickler story was hilarious! I love Ellen’s reaction. I know we have fire ants around here because I’ve seen their mounds on the side of the road, but I’ve never been bitten by one. Fortunately, I don’t think we have any in our yard, yet. Maybe they’re not as bad here because we are farther north. My cousin who lives in Charlotte has a problem with them and has to keep an epi pen on her because she is so allergic. Now, palmetto bugs, that’s another story. Don’t even get me started on those disgusting creatures! And, I love my deck in the late fall, winter, and early spring, but sitting out there in the summer, or even walking in my back yard–forget it unless I want to be covered with mosquito bites!

  2. Forwarded this to my son overseas, as in his last email he was bemoaning the fact that he is going to miss summer and all that it means to us here in the South again.

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  3. This pretty well sums up why I’m known for “I don’t do outdoors.” If there’s one mosquito, fly, wasp, spider or fire ant in the vicinity, it will find me. Just getting the mail is a hazard. Still, I’ve learned to live with palmetto bugs, which at least don’t bite and don’t have the association with them that German roaches do! Why I’ve lived in the south for fifty years are because of circumstances out of my control!

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