If you’re new here, our CEO, Wess Stafford, didn’t write this post, but he did answer the question. We recorded his answer and transcribed it for your reading pleasure.

Read all the posts in the Wess Speaks series.

  • Fire ants? (Kalaya G.)

I was nine. These were army ants, actually, and these things would come in streams of two or three inches wide … millions of them. As they went across the plains of Africa, everything feared them. They just migrated around. If they came to a rabbit hutch with rabbits in it, they could swarm on those rabbits, move on in a half hour, and all you would have left was bones. So we were scared to death of them.

You could see them for miles away. We would go out to meet them with fire on the end of sticks, and we would burn the leaders. They would hiss and spread out, and our hope was, when they regrouped, that they’d be angled in a different direction — not straight at our house.

We put insecticide powder all around the edge of the house to kill these things. But if they invaded your house, you had no choice but to get out. You couldn’t fight them. They would go through the house and eat anything made of meat — all the spiders, all of the lizards … everything would get eaten.

I slept in my little cot with the bedposts in #10 cans of kerosene so that the ants couldn’t come up and bite me. One night it was very, very hot and in my sleep I kicked my sheet off onto the floor. The ants crawled up the sheet and crawled onto me. I didn’t feel a thing until one of them went across my cheek.

In my sleep I reached up, thinking it was a mosquito, and slapped it. That put them all in a panic and they all bit at once. There were hundreds of these things — I was black with ants. I screamed and I ran to my folks.

These ants don’t just bite; they inject poison, so it was insanely painful. And the poison can kill you.

My folks had to pull them off of me one by one. Then I swelled up like a balloon. There was no time to get to the hospital, which was a day’s drive away, so all we could do is pray that I wouldn’t die.

I killed thousands of snakes as a kid. I lived among lions. But the ants were the scariest thing. So now I step on every ant I see.

To anyone who reads this blog, I need you to join me in this cause. Thank you for helping children in poverty, but my bigger cause is to step on ants! ;-)

I will go all the way across the sidewalk to get one. It’s a new movement. I need thousands of people to join me in this battle. I will never get even with them!

  • Print This Post Print This Post
  • Add a Comment

12 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Jun 9, 2008
    at 2:24 pm

    Eek! It sounds like the new Indiana Jones movie. I was hoping that scene in the movie was just make-believe…

  2. K-eM
    Jun 9, 2008
    at 2:32 pm

    Boy can I relate! I remember when we lived in Africa, we had an ant hill in the yard which I avoided like the plague. One time I was running and not watching where I was going. I ran straight through it and had to keep running to the bathroom so that I could pull of all my clothes to get at the ants that were biting me. I step on ants, too!

  3. Jun 9, 2008
    at 3:03 pm

    Yikes! I will join you in the cause to stamp out ants! That sounds horrible! Is this still a problem in some of our projects? Didn’t I read somewhere recently that some kind of ant has entered the U.S. from the south (they think by boat), and is making its way across various states? If so, I hope it takes a LONG time to get to Wyoming!

  4. Jun 9, 2008
    at 4:20 pm

    Ew Ew Ew! Thanks for another thing to worry about if we ever get to go teach in Africa like we’re hoping to…
    Bugs are one thing that majorly freaks me out… almost sent me home from a semester in Costa Rica because I was so scared!

  5. Kalaya G.
    Jun 9, 2008
    at 5:03 pm

    Wess, you are a fabulous storyteller! Thank you for this glimpse into your childhood.

  6. Jun 9, 2008
    at 7:28 pm

    Goo’ness! They sound every bit as bad as swarms of killer bees! You’d be kept very busy, if you tried to kill all the ants on our property. Nothing we put on them works; at most, they move and set up housekeeping four or five inches away. More likely, they just excavate to a new opening, to get rid of the poisoned one.

    One thing’s for sure; I will never feel guilty about stepping on another one!

  7. Jun 9, 2008
    at 8:19 pm


    I’m so glad I read that right before bed.

    Sweet dreams.

  8. Jun 9, 2008
    at 11:01 pm

    According to the Indiana Jones movie all you need to do is get one of them crystal skulls. :-)

    I’ve seen some huge carpenter ants and scary fire ants, but nothing close to animal-devouring ant armies… that’s pretty scary.

  9. Jun 10, 2008
    at 7:06 am

    Hmmm? I got stung by a bee once.

  10. CathySmith
    Jun 12, 2008
    at 9:01 am

    I love my little girl in Rwanda! I will pray for her safty concerning ants, and malaria, and aids and all evil things that could happen to her. How precious is my little girl and all God’s children that are helpless and hopeless without our prayers and sponsorship!
    Your story was written very well!

  11. Mike Stephens
    Mar 28, 2009
    at 10:57 am

    Sounds fascinating and extremely dangerous at the same time!!!

  12. Diane
    Dec 14, 2009
    at 3:09 pm

    The ants sound horrific! Praise God, I’ve not experienced anything like that from ants. Fire ants I’ve seen, but have a healthy respect for and won’t go near! The local ones here on the Oregon Coast are mild enough; I can even enjoy them and think of the object lesson of them in the Bible without fear of my life! They ARE interesting to watch, and learn from.. as long as they stay outside. But, when they come in and march around on kitchen counters, the interest ends; I bring out ant traps!
    Like spiders, they have their place-outside of my house! ;-)

© 2008-2015 Compassion International. All Rights Reserved.
ECFA Charity Navigator BBB