I was wandering along focussing on the hanging baskets so didn't notice them until they started climbing all over me - up my legs, inside my jeans, along the hose I was holding, onto my hands, up my arms and inside my t-shirt. Then, when I stamped and shook my hands to try to dislodge them, they decided I was an enemy and started to sting. Now these are coastal brown ants and their sting isn't all that severe but when you have a dozen or so deciding to sting at once it's not pleasant. I hosed my feet and hands and managed to get rid of the majority but they were so stirred up they kept coming.
I reluctantly reached for the insect spray - I rarely use poisons but sometimes you just have to - and sprayed. I've just been out again to see what's happening and things have quietened down although there are still numbers of ants - far more than usual - randomly hurrying around.
Why this happening I don't know but it might be down to the weather. We're having an unseasonal scorcher of a day. I just checked the thermometer and it's already 32.1 C in the shade on the back veranda and it's not even midday - and the forecast is for 37 C. When you realise that yesterday was 26 C - the usual temperature for this time of year - it's more than possible that the ants are simply severely stressed and this is their response. I certainly hope so. I don't want to be spending my life fending off crazed ants.
The temperature is expected to go back to a more normal 25 C tomorrow and I've got everything crossable crossed that it's right. I got up early and spent a couple of hours rigging up temporary shade cloth shelters in the vegie patch but whether that will be enough to protect things like the lettuce and silverbeet only time will tell.