In Australia we have lots of creatures that people see as quite scary. We have snakes that can kill you and spiders whose bite will probably make you wish you were dead. Sharks, crocodiles, stingers… the list goes on.
These critters will mainly leave you alone unless you stomp on them or swim through their loungeroom, so really there isn’t much to worry about if you pay attention to what you are doing.
Small, but scary….
One critter we have though, is just nasty and can be quite dangerous. Here is a picture of one of them next to my ring for scale. Terrifying.
What? Something so tiny can’t be worthy of a scary post of its own?
Well, these guys are very aggressive and extra bitey. So much so that I used a stick to put my ring down. No way was I getting my fingers within leaping distance of those jaws.
This ant (Myrmecia pilosula species group) is known as a Jumping Jack or Jack Jumper). Their venom can cause severe anaphylactic reactions, even death, and is very painful (trust me, I know).
They are called Jumping Jack because when they are stirred up they move very quickly and can jump a few body lengths, even jumping off plants to attack you. And they like to bite. (Well, sting. They grab you with their jaws and sting you with their tail. Bite or sting, I don’t care, IT HURTS!) They will actually chase after you, bringing their friends along for the hunt if you don’t get away quickly.
We have a few nests of them in the garden and mainly we all keep to ourselves, we leave them alone and they leave us alone. I would like to call it peace but it is mainly a stalemate. They can’t make us move out and clearly they aren’t going anywhere either. Don’t worry, we’ve tried. I think some parts of the garden are still radioactive after our attempts, but still the Jumping Jacks remain.
One nest I am still working on removing though. Our front lawn is divided into two parts and in the middle of one side is a round garden bed about two big steps wide and it seems the bricks around the edge are wonderful for digging ant nests beside.
Over the years this bed has had various things growing in there, roses, weeds, and most recently herbs. Picking the herbs was quite a dangerous endeavor as there was always the chance of picking a handful of furious ant as well.
White tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
The herbs had reached the end of their life so a few months ago I decided the garden needed a re-vamp and bought a few tea plants to go in there. My theory is that they will either grow properly and I will be able to pick my own tea, or they will just grow into a hedgey thing (as tea does) and they will still look nice. Anything will be better than the half dead herbs that were in there before.
Of course it still meant I had to dig out all of the plants that were already in there and that involved disturbing the Jumping Jack nest. Scary stuff.
I had a plan though, and waited until a cold, damp day. Horrible for digging but the kind of day the ants stay at home. If you disturb them on a hot day they will boil furiously out of the ground and run up your shovel handle!
I must have chosen my day well as I only saw a few of them. Each time two or more appeared I decided that it was time for a break and retired to the house. I wasn’t scared of course, I just felt like a cuppa, ok?
Well, my tea plants are in and seem to be happy in their new home. Even though I had dug the ant nest out to quite a deep level (and gave that spot an extra dose of smelly fertilizer just to annoy them) I noticed today that they had already tunnelled back out. Bugger. 😦
Not only that, it was such a sunny day a few of the cheeky buggers were out on the bricks sunning themselves! Hmmmm…. Maybe I could be rid of the lot of them if I laid on some tiny banana-lounges and Aerogard cocktails… 😉
Just waiting for me to look away… then, BOING! CHOMP!