Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mosquitoes and Poison Ivy and Fire Ants, Oh My!

Bad: mosquitoes. They venture out at 7:30pm, on the dot, and fly immediately in my direction. Mosquitoes rarely bite Tom, and when they do, he barely feels it. Mosquitoes bite me and the kids like it’s their job (oh wait, it is), and when they do, the bite site turns red, swells to at least the size of a quarter, and itches like crazy. This week a bite on Hallie’s ankle swelled to the point that she couldn’t put on her sandal and a bite on her jaw made her look like she’d been punched in a fight. And yes, she had been wearing bug repellent.

Worse: poison ivy. We spent Saturday morning working in the yard – pulling vines, killing weeds, mowing, edging, etc. On Sunday morning I woke up with poison ivy on the underneath side of my arm and into my armpit. Between family and Girl Scout camping trips, I’ve been camping in the actual wilderness close to 30 times and have never gotten poison ivy. I pull weeds for an hour in my backyard in Texas and I’m covered. And if poison ivy isn’t bad enough on its own, the rash covered an area that had recently been attacked by mosquitoes.

Worst: fire ants. They’re everywhere here, and they’re awful. Every day, when we come home from swimming lessons, Will hangs our swimsuits and towels outside on the patio chairs to dry. On Friday morning I grabbed my suit off the chair, brought it inside, and tossed it in the swim bag. As I did, I felt a sharp sting on my hand. I couldn’t immediately determine what caused the sting, so I went to the sink to wash my hands. Meanwhile, Tom glanced at the floor and noticed a couple of ants. Then a couple more. I took a guess, unzipped the swim bag, and discovered that a swarm of fire ants had come in on my swimsuit and had now taken up residence in the folds of our beach towels. (Just typing that makes me cringe.) Tom and I sprang into action while the kids stood on their chairs at the breakfast table and cried into their Oatmeal Squares. When the swarm had been taken care of, I glanced down and noticed that my right hand was swollen, thanks to the bite that started it all.

The next day, while watering the lawn (I’d been standing in the grass, wearing shoes, for less than one minute), three more fire ants bit/stung me between my toes on my left foot. For those of you who’ve never been bit by fire ants before, the initial sting feels like a lighted match is being pressed into your skin. Though the pain lessens quickly, what follows is an intensely uncomfortable itching that Never. Ever. Stops.

Thank you, mosquitoes, poison ivy, and fire ants, for making my week miserable and costing me a small fortune in hydrocortisone cream and antihistamines.

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