12 July, Kolkata, India

By Puja Bhattacharjee

The fire ants are everywhere!

On the bed, on my towel, the desk and of course near every bit of food. Last year the situation became impossible. One morning, I woke up to painful stings. I crushed the ones on my body but could not figure out where they were coming from. I got up, intending to give the bed a good shake with my pillow. As soon as I lifted my pillow off the bed, I saw a sea of red ants underneath it. I fled to my parents’ room to complete my sleep.

A few moments ago, I took a shower, dried myself, and was putting on my clothes when I felt sharp stings on the left side of my body. I knew immediately the buggers were on my towel. My parents use regular insect spray to get rid of them. I cannot stand the smell of Hit – the insecticide they use. This year, I prepared in advance. I researched online and found that tea tree oil is an effective natural remedy against fire ants. The ants use scent trails to communicate with each other. The strong odor of tea tree oil interferes with that.

I keep a spray bottle filled with water mixed with tea tree oil near me. I use it whenever I see them invading my space. Initially, I sprayed it on a line of fire ants on the bathroom wall, and they literally froze on their tracks. As if someone had cast a spell.

They can get even inside unopened packets of bread and other food. The other day my dad was transferring an unopened pack of peanuts into a jar when I saw these evil creatures through the transparent plastic. On closer inspection, we found the peanuts at the bottom were just empty shells.

These assholes disappear along with other insect assholes in winter. I have never looked forward to the winters like I do now. Also, aloe vera is a priceless plant. I dabbed some aloe gel on the areas where they stung me. Now I feel much better.