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Expats Blog

Ants in the garden

So, gardening in Panama presents unique challenges.

The other day I took my second cutting from my basil seedings in an effort to a) propagate enough basil for a basil-heavy lasagna recipe I would like to make b) prevent the basil seedlings from getting very tall and woody.

The cutting I took the other day was looking great, and had already started sending out a good quantity of roots. Imagine my surprise when I went to check on them this morning and saw this:

Basil plant eaten by carpenter ants.

It totally did not even cross my mind to worry about leaf cutter ants. The weirdest part is that after all these weeks, their destruction is wholly isolated to these cuttings – all the other plants are still intact, and this is the first time I’ve had this issue. For the moment I have moved the basil cuttings inside by the window to recuperate until they’re ready to go in their new home outside.  The original basil plant is still looking really good.  It’s also my plan this afternoon to plant the next round of tomato seedlings, as hopefully the big plant will begin to produce some fruit soon!

Tomato seedlings.
Next tomato seedling, ready to plant!

I always stop to look at the ants as they’re crossing the sidewalks in little highways with giant green leaves strapped to their backs. Up until now they’re only been something I’ve thought about out of curiosity and never a nuisance. Unfortunately it seems like that might be changing!

Writing this reminds me of other ant related incidents I have had. I now remember that the first basil plant we brought home from the vivero is currently isolated to it’s own corner of the yard, left to die after becoming infested with fire ants. Just yesterday again I was out taking down the laundry and I felt the familiar sharp, sudden burning and looked down to see several wading through the grass. I still remember incredibly well that first night when I was looking for laundry right outside the door and suddenly wondered if I had stepped on something thorny. When the sensation did not quickly subsist after stepping back inside I looked down to see dozens of ants on my ankles, and began swatting them; and it is amazing how much pain such a small thing can suddenly invoke!

Long story short, I generally hate ants now.

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