Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Fire Ants Suck

They Bite & Sting! They Serve No Useful Purpose! They're... DEMOCRATS!!

It looks like both GuyK and Eric are trying to kill some ants!

Killing fire ants... It's an almost futile practice, akin to trying to keep liberals out of public office. Still, I have seen it done upon occasion, and not with bags of Amdro.

One peculiar gizmo I've operated was meant for attacking fire ant mounds out in cattle pastures. It used boiling hot water and a huge spade bit for churning up the nest. The whole shebang set up on a trailer, and you'd hook it up to the PTO on your tractor. It had a propane burner under the water tank, and this huge rotating blade that looked like some medieval jagged head-lopper set on the vertical. You'd wait for the water to get steaming, then throw the tractor in gear and go in search of a fire ant mound.

You'd center the drill rig on top of the mound, then throw a lever. The spade bit would start spinning at about 1000 RPM, and slam down into the dirt to a depth of three feet or so. Simultaneously, jets of boiling water would inundate the soil.

The theory was that you'd completely break up the nest deep enough to get down to the queen's nesting chambers, and parboil the little bastards until they were all bulgy and medium rare. Then, you'd raise the bit and drive on to the next ant mound.

It never failed to toss up a double handful of pissed-off ants onto your pants legs, despite the drill shield. I'd always have my grubbiest blue jeans on for ranch work, which meant many holes for the ants to crawl into. Trust me, you never want a fire ant trying to bite your 'nads. It's hard to leap off a tractor and drop trou in a hurry in order to brush them loose.

The other proven ant killer was some mystery chemical we used at summer camp.

I never learned exactly what the unholy concoction was. All I knew was that it was toxic as hell, and illegal in most civilised countries. Rumor had it it was left over from the IG Farben nerve gas experiments in the 1930's.

The head ranger had a big drum of this stuff locked away in a shed with several other dented and corroded drums full of EPA-banned substances. Every summer at the start of camp setup, he'd gather a few of the older staffers and we'd trek out to the hidden dump where the camp's evil secrets were kept. He'd pull on some rubber gloves about as thick as whale hide, take a deep breath, then duck inside the shed and pry loose the bung on the drum lid. After a dash back outside for more air, he'd use an old length of copper tubing like a wine thief to draw off a pint or so into an old Mason jar.

We each had a 2-gallon pressurized sprayer full of water. The head ranger would dose each sprayer with about a level shotglass of the filthy brew, and that was more than enough concentration to do the deed.

He was very specific about usage...

"Now boys, don't yew spray this on anything but a fahr ant mound, and don't spray that more than 2 or 3 seconds. Jist enough to wet tha soil good. Don't y'all get any of this-here stuff on yer boots, neither... It'll eat right through and you'll grow a frog flipper outta the top of yer foot!"

I'm convinced to this day that the stuff was distilled from equal parts mamba venom, DDT, cyanide, hemlock, nuclear waste, the liquid that oozes out of fast food trash dumpsters, and a smidgen of whatever strange glowing substance leaks out of a Happy Fun Ball. Whatever you sprayed it on died within seconds. Ant mounds treated with the DeathJuice came to resemble Ground Zero at Los Alamos. Even ash juniper shrubs, which can grow on bare rock and live through 20 year droughts withered and died if they were within a foot or so of the treated ant mound.

If I ever develop foot cancer, grow extra toes, or my kids are born with tentacles, I'll know who to blame...

For the absolute best-ever radio commercials for fire ant killer, go to this page, scroll down to the bottom and listen!