“Don’t throw the leftover food there,” I told Mr. Hubby when I saw the remains of fish curry under the lemon tree. Then he started dumping leftovers under the banana trees. This time I let it pass. However, when he succeeded in letting a soft-boiled egg roll off the table and he threw it beside my new vegetable bed, I couldn’t hold my tongue. Read on before you chastise me!
|A weaver ant|
Cooked food discarded in my backyard always attracts a colony of weaver ants. You don’t want to be bitten by even one or two of these fierce, meat-eating insects. When you unknowingly stand in a pool of ants that race up your legs due to someone’s apathy—as was the case that morning-- you’ll be forgiven for blowing your top.
|Feasting on a grasshopper|
I didn’t blow my top but I showed Mr. Hubby the assembled ants so he could see the connection between food and weaver ants.
“See what you have done?” I said as I showed him the ants, then having an eating frenzy thanks to his egg, and the swelling bite marks on my poor, fat legs. I could only hope he saw the horde of ants because he didn’t even glance at my old legs.
A weaver ant crawls up your leg so lightly that you only realise it’s there when it bites. When you’ve accidentally stepped on a whole colony, they’d be already clinging onto your toes, ankles and insteps before you realize what is happening. They sink sharp mouth pieces into your skin, anchoring themselves there making it difficult to brush them away.
|Weaver ants make nests by rolling up leaves.|
Observing the weaver ants in the backyard, I discovered that they build nests on big-leafed shrubs and trees. They choose a few leaves growing near to each other on a branch and roll these into a rough ball-shaped nest where they live and multiply until they abandon this nest for a newer one. They normally move by travelling on the chain-link fence to look for food which I think is nectar but they are also attracted to food from our table and insects such as grasshoppers and moths.
|See the fly?|
|Another victim looks like a bee.|
I try to discourage the ants from overtaking the back porch by not putting any edibles there but sometimes Whiskers, the cat, doesn’t cooperate. She leaves half-eaten food in her bowl for the ants. I’ve scattered ant poison along their paths on the fence but that didn’t get rid of them. I’ve sprayed vinegar on the floor near the cat food but they’d come back after a short absence.
|The ants come for the cat's food too.|
If only they just stick to that fence and not trespass into my territory. I don’t want to give up gardening but neither do I want to be gnawed by the weaver ants.