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I spend my life murdering ants. As irritating as they are they also have to be admired, in terms of organisation and persistence. They are teaching me persistence too, on a daily basis, as I get up in the morning and find my so-called spotless kitchen a haven for a zillion ants. Before I can get any breakfast going I have to de-ant the space first. But they keep on coming and coming and coming… Not only in my kitchen but I also have them in my bathroom (who knew face creams were so delicious), in my silver earrings etc., and even in my bed sometimes. Ha!

There are many different varieties, not just the very tiny ones that invade my house but also big ones –known here as hormigas cuatalacas- that can strip a plant overnight by chopping bits of leaf off and carrying them back across complicated terrain to their home. They mow the grass leaving an easier and well marked path for the carriers; it’s a sort of ant motorway. They make themselves obvious by burrowing out and creating a mound of earth, and sending out swarms of ants for food.

Then there are the red ones, that you don’t see hiding in the grass. Step on them and suddenly they swarm up your legs biting you as they go, leaving awful itchiness and irritation. They also take up residence in the compost and since we turn it over once a week then we have to be careful, they are so vicious. You have to leave them alone and let them go somewhere else before attacking their terrain.

There are also flying ants, and goodness knows how many other types of ants. Mexico is an ant-rich country.

Not only do I have to watch out for ants but also take great care with the guachichiles, which are sort of dislocated wasps, dark red in colour, and at the moment in the rainy season they have taken up residence in my garden all over the place. Their sting is particularly sharp. The other day my gardener was attempting to cut a branch with his machete and didn’t see the panal (honeycomb home) full of guachichiles and was stung by about 10 of them. He had to go home, the pain was so intense. I’ve got these panales all over the garden at the moment.

And spiders, and spiderwebs, and lizards and even a fabulous green iguana! There is food in abundance for birds, squirrels, tlachuaches, scorpions, black widow spiders, ants and everything else that makes up the amazing ecosystem that is my garden.


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