Sunday, 8 May 2011

Myrmecophobia - fear of the humble ant!

When it comes to phobias - fear based and acute levels of anxiety - there are some that, let’s see, are a little more popular than others! 
Arachnophobia for example is not uncommon.  Myrmecophobia is almost unheard of!
The first, as most of you would most likely realise, is the fear of spiders.  The latter, a fear of ants.  That’s right, the humble ant.  
Sounds silly right?  Afraid of an ant - hmmm!
I for one am quite frankly amazed by the remarkable and somewhat adaptable spider, yet ants - OK, not terrifyed, but most certainly highly anxious in their company.  
Let’s be clear, not all ants - one specific ant - THE BULLDOG !
I distinctly recall the afternoon that I acquired my aversion to these little mini-beasts: ‘The Bull Ant’.
It was a pleasant enough afternoon and I had spent the most part of it wandering about in the extended back garden, which backed on to a reserve and offered miles and miles of wonderful hidey-holes and walking tracks.
My friend and I were within yelling distance of our house, and my parents, yet when a bull ant took a strong dislike to me, in particular my foot, it was more of a distressed cry than a scream that I let out.
For such a small thing this ant hung on with those extended mandibles for an eternity -  and stung, and stung, and STUNG!  
My young friend just stood staring, in shock as the small creature unleashed its excruciating fury upon me.  The tenacity and staying power of this little animal was really quite admirable, if only we were all this protective of our homes!
Finally I managed to get the words out “Go get Dad!”  The penny dropped and my companion ran off returning soon enough with my father who simply bent down and flicked the aggressive little creature off with ease.
As we bathed my sore and swollen foot in the basin we counted the stings, there were more than fifty!
These tremendously LARGE ants (especially large in my mind!) are known also as ‘Jumping Jacks’ and as the name would suggest they can jump, quite impressive distances in fact.
In my fanciful child’s mind, they could jump over vast distances, and were ALL out to get me.  As I grew into an adult my brain somehow overlooked the need to outgrow this fear, and to this day I remain steadfastly afraid of the humble ‘Jumping Jack’.
If you don’t believe me - check them out for yourself, the safe way - on the net! 

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