Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ant Alert!

Before I came to Kenya as an RA in 2014, I thought ants were cool. They live in these fascinating groups and show an amazing level of cooperation. Then I met siafu… Other names for these ants include army ants or safari ants. They live in temporary holes and may move quite frequently. While traveling, they form these long, distinct lines with the soldier ants on the outside. (Emily mentioned them in her post last week.)

Long-story short, I met my first siafu in 2014 after we had gotten stuck. I got out of the car, and in the tall grass, I unknowingly walked through a column of siafu. Within a few minutes, I was jumping around yelping. The ants had crawled up under my jeans and were biting me. The soldier ant class has a strong set of pinschers that they will use to bite and hold. Often times siafu soldier ant bites draw blood. The ants are also hard to squish, and they will usually bite your finger as you squish them. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? J

After I had gotten all the ants off me (they were in my shoes, socks, and all over my legs), everyone then proceeded to tell me siafu horror stories. Apparently, you can wake up in the middle of the night and think that you hear rain, but what you are actually hearing are many siafu falling from the ceiling of your tent. It is raining siafu! Or you might walk into the kitchen tent at some point and realize that the floor is covered in a writhing mass of siafu. You don’t want to walk through that! Suffice it to say, that siafu had quickly become the scariest animal in the Mara!

Since this first experience, I have come across siafu many times. In the last week or so, they have been all over Serena camp.

As I approached my tent on my way back from breakfast this morning, I saw the columns… They were all around my tent and under my tarp… But these ants were a different color than the siafu we usually see. They were reddish. Hmm, were these another kind of siafu or some other type of ant? Fire ants? Do they bite? I tried to google them, but there are way too many ant species for me to get an accurate answer. I ended up asking Philimon and Moses, our camp staff. They called them termite ants and said that they were harmless. I was okay with letting them be as long as the ants did not cause problems, but of course, Philimon and Moses went into full on pest control! They sprayed doom, a pesticide, all around the outside of my tent and put laundry detergent around the edge of the tarp under my tent. Now, I am stuck outside my tent while the fumes dissipate! Here are some pictures of the “termite ants” and my tent.

1 comment:

kold_kadavr_ flatliner said...

Glad we wont have'm
in Seventh-Heaven...

Coming to my BIG-ol,
John Belushi, party-hardy
in illustrious Seventh-Heaven?
Eternal pleasure-beyond-measure?

BTW... Im an NDE.
Now I know s'up, earthling:
the Great Beyond is totally,
extraordinarily gorgeous4ever.
Follow us on the journey Upstairs.

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science