Fire Ants, Dishwashing and Drought

Having to haul water offers up a rare challenge insofar as cooking and cleaning up afterward.   Before the drought became so severe I’d mitigated the problem by putting my dirty dishes into potato or grapefruit bags and placing them on imported fireant beds.  A day later, voila!  Clean clean clean!

All I had to do is pull them out of the bags and wipe them down with a moist towel or cloth and they were ready to use.

But as the summer progressed and the soil dried the fire ant beds became more difficult to locate.  Without moisture in it the soil here has no structure.  The beds became invisible, and concurrently the ants seemed just to go underground.   Imported fire ants,  common name: red imported fire ant
scientific name: Solenopsis invicta Buren (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae) are eating machines.  They’ll eat anything.

“Mounds are built of soil and are seldom larger than 46 cm (18 in) in diameter. When a mound is disturbed, ants emerge aggressively to bite and sting the intruder. A white pustule usually appears the next day at the site of the sting (Cohen 1992).

I looked for other alternatives with other ant species, no joy.  What I discovered is that good American fire ants just don’t want to do that kind of work.  I tried it with every kind of ant bed I could find, dishes stacking up in the sink, me gradually being forced to use hauled water and scouring pads to clean up dishes and utensils.

If I couldn’t find some good American fireants willing to work or some way to locate illegal imported fireants for the job I was going to be reduced to hauling water a lot more, or get a dog to lick that stuff off the eatingware.

Luckily that 24/7 September 13, moonbows and canned thunder outdoor canned thunder brought in the first measurable rainfall in 100+ days here, just as you thought it would.  There’s enough moisture in the soil now to let the fire ant mounds get some altitude so’s I’ll be able to locate them for my dishwashing.

On the other hand, the rain proved my chimney-fix didn’t entirely accomplish what was intended.

Water was hitting the chimney outside, intruding and running down the stovepipe as far as the elbow, then dripping in.

Hard to think of a good quote to sum up all this.  “It’s an ill wind that blows no good?”

But it’s all good.  I just have to cut that oversized chimney-pipe and put it on there as a sleeve over the old chimney soon.  Better knowing it now than discovering it when Mr. Bullgoose Daddy-Longlegs storm comes in.

Old Jules

10 responses to “Fire Ants, Dishwashing and Drought

  1. Very resourceful. But you ant gonna get me to try it.

    • I’m not evangelical about it Bob. Besides, you almost certainly aren’t hauling water half-mile in gallon jugs. If you were for a while you might be surprised what you’d try. Thanks for stopping in. Jules

  2. Morning Jules – I’m going to remember this. Sounds like the Mercun ants are a tad bit lazy.

    • Morning One Fly: They’re affluent and specialized I reckons. Don’t want to get their hands dirty, and picky eaters. Those dirty plates aren’t MacDonalds. Thanks for coming by. Good seeing you. Jules

  3. Well, I’ll be… ants that do dishes. I live near a river so I won’t need this method anytime soon, I suppose, but I love knowing this kind of stuff.

  4. While I never needed them for that, I do recall my stay in Texas saw me using them to reduce the need to bury varmints I killed. We never had to put up with stinking road kill unless it stayed on the hot summer asphalt. Just get it off into the dirt and in less than 24 hours there wasn’t much left on the carcass to stink. Then again, the buzzards handled a lot of stuff, too.

  5. Never thought I’d yearn for fire ants. Well I’m still not. If you have enough dishes and let them pile up long enough something or someone always seems to do them for you. (Either that or they wind up in a thrift store.) Pity the poor people working there.

    • Hi tffnguy: Those folks tend to be high quality individuals working in those thrift stores. Never heard one complain about anything. Thanks for coming by. Surely have been enjoying your posts lately about the solar refrigerator you’re putting together. Funnel Cloud / New Fridge and STORM! / fridge / Bloger Sucks! . Thanks for stopping by. Gracias, J

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