In case you were wondering if my feelings have changed, they haven’t. I still hate ants. The last couple years have done nothing to improve my relationship to the Insect Kingdom equivalent of herpes. In fact, it has only gotten worse.
My first week in Puerto Rico was marred by a near-crippling earache. It lasted over a week before I saw a doctor. He perscribed drops that didn’t work. One night I couldn’t take it any more and stuck a Q-tip in my ear, resolving to puncture the eardrum if it would just make the pressure stop. It did stop, and I pulled out a wad of wax, a scab of blood, and a dead ant. Apparently it had crawled in, stung my ear canal, then drowned in pus. I have zero sympathy.
A few months later, I was on a ladder taking leaf samples from the canopy when something fell in my eye. With both my hands occupied with holding on, I tried to just blink it away. The object turned out to be a live ant that then got caught under my eyelid where it stung me several times. I was able to remove it, but was left with a small amount of scar tissue on the thin blood vessels against my eyeball. To this day, I can feel it irritating when it’s cold out. Sometimes it even bleeds a little.
The list goes on. Carpenter ants in the roof. Formica species in my boots. Little sugar ants that somehow get in through double Ziploc bags.
It’s been a week now in back in the tropics. So far, the ants have kept their distance. But I’m not fooled. I refuse to let my guard drop for a moment. This is war, and I’ve got the scars to prove it. Plus my right ear is now prone to infection and my doctor recommends I swim with earplugs.
Say it with me: fuck ants.