Beware Where You Step
At Viera Wetlands (Viera, Florida) the other morning on a photographic journey to a man-made marsh and wetlands. Beautiful place and great photo ops but: beware where you step.
A number of other shooters and I were clustered near the entrance kiosk shooting a green heron. I was the last one in so I was working the perimeter of the group of shooters. Pretty focused (HA!) on the subject at hand and my in-the-field workflow, I vaguely remember shifting position and my right foot planting itself in some softer ground near the kiosk post. The green heron beckoned visually so that’s where my attention stayed. Shortly, I began to experience some discomfort and nagging bite sensations in the bend in my leg behind my knee.
Looking down my right foot is brown and moving in waves, as is my pant leg to about mid-calf. Lo-and-behold I have one foot firmly placed and dug in to the center of a large sandy red ant hill. The ants are pissed and doing their damnedest to get and keep my attention. All thoughts of photography are gone. I manage to set the camera and lens in the car before ministering to my leg. Thankfully few of those bad-boy fire ants figured out the path under my pants and over my sock to the bare skin beyond, but some had and were making their presence known. I have a visceral memory of growing up outside of Miami way back in my pre-pre-school days and my mother freaking out when either my brother or I got into a red ant hill. She ended up calling my dad at work. Into a tub of water one or both of us went to rid the body of the fire ants. At age 62 my response was to wipe down my trouser leg with both hands towards my boot. This I did a couple times before doing the same to my boot. Lots of ants gone but some transferred to my hands. At this point I am picking off or squishing wherever I find them. In memory of the red ant solution of my youth a bottle of water is poured on and over my boot. Maybe this sequence took a couple of minutes total but it was another ten to fifteen minutes of responding to bites and crawling sensations before I was red ant free.
I finished my solo photography shoot then drove the 45 minutes back to the camper. Two days out I am dealing with nasty pustules where I was bitten: both hands and my one leg mid-calf up to my knee. The day of, I found myself exhausted in the afternoon and taking a long nap. A Google search today of red ant bite symptoms (rightdiagnosis.com) laid the exhaustion felt that afternoon squarely at the multiple feet of the Florida Red Ant. Reading the list of internet generated symptoms (Heart rhythm abnormalities, Swelling at site of bite, Redness at site of bite, Pain at site of bite, Wheal at site of bite, Itching around site of bite, Breathing difficulty, Fever – lasts 1 or 2 day, Increased blood pressure, Rapid heart rate, Nausea, Seizures, Aches, Tiredness, Flu-like symptoms, Pustules at site of bite – last 3-8 days). I felt lucky to have awaken from my afternoon slumbers.
So: Beware Where You Step!!