Bluebottles, redbacks, green ants – funny how some of the nasty stingers of Australia are known for their colour. We are the country of the great outdoors, the wide open spaces, the bush and the beach, but we also have some of the most poisonous wildlife. You don’t need to venture into the bush or frolic in the surf to be assaulted by a native stinger. Danger lurks within the safety of the suburban backyard. Yes, I’m talking about the green ant.
Rhytidoponera metallica is their official title, but we just call them green ants. I was always a little puzzled by the nickname of green ant as they always looked somewhat black to me. However, up close they are a metallic green colour. I’ve never really taken the opportunity to have a close look at a green ant. Usually I’m just jumping around, swearing and grabbing an icepack as fast as I can. You don’t usually feel the bite, but you know when you’ve been bitten. They hurt. They really really hurt. Enough to make you cry. It’s the worst sting I’ve ever experienced.
In the last few weeks I’ve had two close encounters with green ants. The first time I was wearing thongs, hanging up the washing, and then… Ow! You little ****! I finish hanging up the washing, all the while my toe is throbbing and I can’t wait to get inside. I spent the next four hours with an icepack on my toe. Yes. You read that right. Four hours. They hurt for a very long time and the only thing that I have found to give some relief is an icepack.
The second time, I thought I was prepared for the outdoors, but the little varmint crawled up my shoe and inside my sock to attack my ankle. Apparently they only bite when they get lost. Well, if they stayed in the grass and didn’t go wandering all over my feet, they wouldn’t get lost! Another morning spent with an icepack wrapped around my ankle. This time I figured out a way of holding the icepack in place so I could get some work done.
Today I bought a large container of ant sand and sprinkled it liberally under the clothesline and around the edge of the patio. I usually have a live and let live approach to wildlife, except for spiders that invade the house. I don’t necessarily want to kill the green ants, I just want to keep them away from the areas we use the most. I guess green ants are just one of those things we have to learn to live with.
Queensland– beautiful one day; stinging the next.