Snehlata Dash has always loved the serene and peaceful surroundings of her village, Brahmansahi. The 75-year-old widow had hardly stepped outside her village since she got married over four decades ago.
But in the middle of August she had to flee her Brahmansahi and rush to her married daughter’s house. All because of some tiny red ants.
It might sound like a scene from a movie, but 70 people from 18 households living in the remote Odisha village are having a tough time because of millions of red ants that have invaded their space.
An army of red ants invade the village
The fast-moving ants seem to have made Brahmansahi in Pipili block of the Puri district their home, invading every nook and corner of the villagers’ houses.
The attack began in the middle of August after heavy showers.
“We’ve been living in this village for several years and have never faced this problem before,” said Snehlata Dash. “I live alone after the death of my husband and in this village we stay like a family. But the invasion of red ants has made our life miserable,” she said, showing the black bruises in her legs where the ants had stung her.
The entire village – interestingly all of them belong to a single community and have the same surname – was caught off guard by the attack of the ant army.
They were on the beds, on the floor, inside vegetables and water pots. We couldn’t even cook food or drink water.
“They marched like a big army ready to destroy whatever came in their way,” Snehlata Dash, who had just returned from her daughter’s house, told Village Square.
Unmanageable crimson ant infestation
The ants simply took over the village. “They have been on the beds, on the ground, inside greens and water pots. We couldn’t even prepare dinner meals or drink water. Possibly the ants have been indignant with us as a result of we have been all getting bitten,” mentioned Nayana Sprint, a homemaker.
“The scenario was so dangerous that we needed to put on polythene sheets even once we have been inside the home,” she instructed Village Square.
Debendra Nath (68), who was born within the village, continues to be shocked about such an ant infestation taking place for the primary time in his life.
“We used insect repellents round our beds and utilized natural oil on our our bodies at evening. However nonetheless we couldn’t sleep,” he mentioned. “They haunted us in sleep additionally.”
A well being concern
Like Snehlata Sprint, a couple of households fled the village to keep away from the ant bites and the ensuing rashes.
Native well being officers mentioned that they have been additionally shocked by folks coming in giant numbers with ant stings.
“We hardly get such instances right here as many of the instances are associated to snake bites. The swelling within the pores and skin and rashes have been triggered as a result of the ants secrete formic acid. We gave the villagers medicines,” mentioned Binay Kumar Panda, a neighborhood public well being officer.
“I’ve hardly come throughout such instances throughout my medical tenure,” Panda instructed Village Square.
The executive officers conceded that they have been additionally caught off guard by the presence of a lot of ants.
“We usually spray chemical substances for vector-borne ailments however we’ve by no means seen such an assault of ants,” mentioned Rashmita Nath, block improvement officer (BDO) of the Pipili block.
Eliminating the crimson fireplace ants
For the reason that villagers knew they may not management the crimson ant infestation, they knowledgeable the native administration who rushed to their rescue.
Admitting they have been bowled over by the enormity of the issue, Nath mentioned they needed to rent a personal company for spraying the chemical substances, although it was pricey.
Although the issue has lowered after the authorities sprayed chemical substances, the crimson fireplace ants haven’t been fully eradicated.
“They sprayed chemical substances, however not behind the homes. Ants are nonetheless seen in giant numbers in tree barks and bushes,” mentioned Sabita Sprint, a neighborhood ASHA employee, displaying the stays of chemical substances in some locations and the crimson fireplace ants below the barks.
What triggered Brahmansahi’s crimson ant infestation?
A senior scientist who visited the village mentioned that the scenario may develop into dangerous once more until the queen fireplace ant was caught and killed.
“The queen can stay as much as 65 years and has the capability to put 800 eggs every single day. They construct their very own colonies. She must be caught and killed instantly in any other case the inhabitants of ants will preserve multiplying,” mentioned Sanjay Kumar Mohanty, senior scientist at Odisha College of Agriculture and Expertise (OUAT).
He mentioned that the villagers are additionally at fault as a result of the village is surrounded by greenery and has fallen tea barks and bushes which haven’t been eliminated.
“Such cool locations are an ideal habitat for ants. Villagers ought to preserve the premises clear. Some blamed the swelling of the native canal for the ant infestation but it surely’s not true,” Mohanty instructed Village Square.
Searching for the queen
The households that left the village throughout the top of the ant infestation have returned.
However everybody continues to be anxious and spending sleepless nights. Because the chemical substances sprayed by the authorities are getting washed away within the rains, the villagers are anxious that the ants will return and resume their assault.
“We’re retaining a detailed watch of the scenario. We are going to spray chemical substances if the scenario goes uncontrolled,” mentioned Nath.
She mentioned that the villagers ought to preserve the place clear.
In the meantime, villagers are desperately trying to kill the queen ant to make sure that normalcy returns they usually needn’t fear concerning the return of the fireplace ants.
The lead picture exhibits crimson fireplace ants that wreaked havoc within the Brahmansahi village of Odisha, forcing some folks to flee (Picture courtesy Shammiknr, Pixabay)
This text was first printed in Villagesquare.in.