Monday, March 4, 2019


I don’t usually write about insects . . . they are not one of my abiding interests.  However --  there is one insect which intrudes on my person, and keeps reminding me of its presence for several days afterward.  That is the Twig Ant (I called them Tree Ants before I found out the real name).  Pseudomyrmex gracilis  ants really do live in trees (until they fall onto your neck or crawl onto your arm when you reach into a bush).  They are invaders from Mexico (undocumented?) and now reside all along our southern tier states.

They do not bite, but sting; their venom feels like a hard pinch for 30 minutes or more and they can repeatedly sting on one visit.  After you feel the sting, you will see a pretty big swelling around the sting that will go down in a few hours.  Just when you feel like that bite is over, here comes the itch.  It is an intense itch that can last for several days. As far as I know you just have to grit your teeth and swallow hard to get over it.

You will recognize this ant as a large slender ant that is either dark reddish brown or black.  There are much longer identifications that I have read, but that’s all you really need (or maybe want) to know.  If you want to do further research, I suggest you use their scientific name in your internet browser.  These things have a really bad disposition, and will bite at the least provocation, including getting trapped in your clothes.  Some people advise that you not smack them, but flick them off with your finger.  Supposedly you have less a chance of being stung.  (Okay, if you say so !!)

I hope this doesn’t deter you from gardening, it’s a small price to pay for such beauty and personal satisfaction.

May your horticultural results be as fulfilling as your gardening diligence.    

Martha Dysart.

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