I learned about Little Fire Ants yesterday….

Photos: Hawaii Department of Agriculture

I learned about Little Fire Ants yesterday….I’ve been stung by Louisiana fire ants around my ankles, had a 6 inch centipede in my shirt bite me 4 times under the arm. I’ve had a large swarm of ground-dwelling yellow jackets attack my back and neck while mowing our campus firebreak and I’ve had an outbreak of Shingles on my neck and the back of my head. All these were REALLY painful, but they all paled in comparison to little fire ants. Yesterday morning while cutting up a large fallen tree and clearing growth for a friend in a neighboring community I got to experience what before I’d only heard about from friends on the Hilo side of our island. Little Fire Ants are hard-to-see tiny and instead of living on the ground, they are up in the trees and bush leaves where they easily fall and drop on you. So as is typical of LFA, I suddenly had 45 stings across my neck, both arms, hairline and left eye lid. But either fire ants have some secret communication where they all agree to sting you at the same time, or more likely the pain from their venom increases in intensity after the bite, I never saw the ants at all. I first thought my dry skin was especially itchy, then that I’d gotten into some nettles, and then that I had three blow torches turned on my arms and neck…I was on fire.Managed to drive home, hardly able to string two words together, I stripped next to our washing machine while Dee fumigated my truck. Took two Benadryl while taking a cold shower. Then a couple hours alternating ice packs and steroid creme until the antihistamine finally knocked me out until evening.Today I’m better. I can open my left eye. The general redness and swelling on my arms has reduced to just the defined little painful-only-when-touched whelps, and most thankfully, the overall “I’m on fire” pain is completely gone.I’m now a motivated LFA fighter and pray you don’t have to learn about them quite like I did. Since their accidental import to our island in 1999, they’ve taken over East Hawaii and are expanding their range in West Hawaii. There are lots of state and local resources to help fight them. The main thing is to regularly monitor your normal ants by placing four or more peanut-butter-dipped popsicle sticks around your property, placing them in a ziplock bag, freezing them and sending them to BIISC, 23 E Kawili St, Hilo, HI 96720. This Hawaii State Invasive Species group has developed a safe, effective gel-bait that needs to be used every 5 weeks for a year, but seems able to eliminate them from a given area.I generally love learning, but not this lesson.

Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight

Credit: Allan Robbins (Creative Commons Lisense)
Credit: Jacopo Werther

Aug. 11, 2020: If your tire of social media grumbles, creation might have an alternative for you the next couple nights.

The Perseid meteor and fireball shower is at its best tonight and tomorrow night and it was pretty fantastic last night. NASA estimates an average of 50 to 120 meteors per hour, but in my experience you can go up to 10 minutes without seeing a thing and then see 4 in two seconds. The Perseids are especially known for their long slow colorful fireballs that streak clear across the sky every so often…slow enough you can blink a couple times and they’re still going. I include a shot of the only fireball I captured last night, and my phone camera couldn’t pick up all the smaller meteors. but I include a shot taken by another photographer. To watch them tonight, find a dark, starry patch of sky after 10PM (even better after 2PM). (It was 4PM last night before the clouds cleared at our house) Lie on your back and look up about halfway between the horizon and overhead. They are going all directions.

What Happens next?

What Happens Next

Playable Covid-19 Epidemiology Simulator
Give it a try!

Try your hand at this! For 25 years every student that came through my Community Health course or Applied Epidemiology seminar got a free app called EpiInfo, to both simulate epidemics and to help tease out the causes and variables. Our field practicums used it in N. Iraq, Yemen, Cambodia and Bolivia. In class, we usually started with simulating food poisoning at church picnics and would end up with a full cholera epidemic, but the linked animations are a pretty good summary and hands-on Epi simulator for what is affecting our current pandemic. For those interested play around with the intermittent lock-downs. Also, if really interested, listen to the “This Week in Virology” podcast discuss a just published simulation of how schools could rotate face-to-face attendance and online learning to maximize protection from spreading the virus between school to home.

Playable Simulation

1st link is the podcast. 2nd link is the simulatorAudio/Video Podcast https://www.microbe.tv/twiv/twiv-653/