What is the most ferocious beast at Camp Salmen? Well, we don't have any panthers or black bears in the woods or sharks in the bayou. We do have a few furtive, forlorn coyotes, some “fraidy-cat” snakes and one lonely alligator that only frightens fish. I'd have to say that, pound for pound, it would have to be the red fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)
Red ants are mechanical little beasts, each with a strict function in the society of their colony. The worker is the most numerous. They normally toil way in the dark tunnels of the mound, lurking just under its calm exterior but with any kind of disturbance they instantly turn into little badass U.S. Marines. The mound suddenly erupts as hundreds of red defenders, each in attack mode, bust out into the daylight; literally opening up the mound and spilling out in every direction to relentlessly search for the offender, take them on and deliver a painful bite.
Be careful about fooling around with these mounds. Any ants that get on your clothes unobserved will crawl around until they find an unprotected, unsuspecting part of your anatomy and then sink in their mandibles like no tomorrow; like the ant who recently grabbed my leather boot and wouldn’t let go until only his head was left when I tried to brush him off.
We try to suppress the activity of these South American invaders but unfortunately, they seem to favor our green lawns, which is also where our park guests like to go. So, try to remember the two things you learn to do automatically when outside in Louisiana: seek shade and watch that you’re not standing on an ant mound.