There Are Ants in my Pants

A letter to Friends and Family in 2004

Hello Everyone

Last night as I drifted between sleep and semi consciousness – that blissful state one reaches before finally slipping into full sleep- I became aware of rain falling softly on my mosquito net. How wonderful – finally some rain to tame the Serengeti dust after a long dry season. Reason took over – suddenly I jerked back awake and my rational mind took over! How could it be raining inside my tent?

I leapt out of bed and almost immediately felt the sharp bites of hundreds of Siafu (army ants) running up my legs. The “rain” was ants falling from the ceiling. In seconds they were in my hair and all over my body biting with their fearsome pincers – I was being eaten alive!

The generator had been switched off so my room was dark – only a bit of light coming in from the moon. I grabbed my torch and made a run for the front door and burst out into the Serengeti with the urgency that comes from having ants in your pants! I could not have cared less that there could be buffalo or hippo in my path.

I ran to Pete’s tent and flung my clothes off! Before you all raise your eyebrows and utter “aha!” – the man is on leave! I furiously drowned as many ants as possible under the shower and managed to rid myself of the majority of them. I then gathered up all the bottles of bug spray in Pete’s tent and prepared to go war.

Siafu are fearsome creatures that devour anything and everything in their path and that would include me if they could! There are so many ants in a column, that they leave a groove in the ground once they have all passed.

I found the main army on the march from the river about 200m away. I knew this would be a losing battle, just judging by the sheer numbers. However, I had to get back into my room to retrieve my radio – I was on duty to listen for any emergencies (and was having a good one all on my own!!).

I sprayed my way into my room and the full situation unfolded before me. Siafu were coming into my house through every possible opening. My mosquito net was full of insects fleeing for their lives. Scorpions, spiders, geckos and centipedes were all clinging to the sides of my net hoping to escape the cruel death awaiting them. A huge toad who had initially reacted to the invasion with gleeful, gluttonous feasting had now been overwhelmed by his prey. The hunter had become the hunted and was slowly being devoured alive. The same fate had befallen many of my friendly geckos and the rest were trying to get out of my home. My cans of doom were no match for the enormity of the enemy – the might of the masses!

I radioed for security to come and assist me as my torch was beginning to fade and I needed some help. They arrived with extra cans of bug spray and we tried to stem the tide. By now all my efforts had only dented the population of Siafu and my home remained a grisly sight of animals being devoured alive.

Now they once again turned their attention back to my sparsely pajama clad legs and were nipping at me with intent. I was hopping up and down while trying to speak to Steven and Francis who had come to my assistance and then it happened…one of them reached a spot in my pants that they should not have! I let out a yell and immediately made off at full speed to Pete’s tent to rid myself of my persistent invaders, with Steven and Francis laughing as they watched me go!

Eventually we gave up and I resigned myself to a night in a strange bed with no sheets! To make matters worse a swarm of bees has taken up residence in Pete’s roof. If anyone tells you bees go to sleep at night, don’t believe them – they don’t! So, from being almost eaten alive (not really, but it sounds good) to the most insistent buzzing…..not much sleep was had last night I am afraid!

This morning there was no sign of the invaders other than a deep furrow and the carcasses of about a million ants strewn (a tiny percentage of what survived) and the bare bones of their prey. I have put ashes around the perimeter of my house and some diesel (don’t tell anyone!) as the staff tell me that this will put an end to any future visits by my tormentors!

Well, that is all for now. I have to tell you that it is rather unnerving to be attacked by something so small with such ferocity and success. I have a small inkling of what it would be like to be eaten alive and it is not an experience I would like to repeat.



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Karen Richards

&Beyond Travel Specialist

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