In the dark of night -- last night -- Robert strapped on a portable flamethrower, hoisted up the heavy fuel container, lit the business end of the hose, and -- after laying down a precise line of flame on OUR property -- he quietly entered our neighbor's yard. (NOTE: this is taking place in our little village in Mexico.)
Watching the ground intently, he walked slowly around their outdoor kitchen and play-yard, laying down an incinerated trail as he moved. Then, he circled their entire home, all the while flaming a trail... Then he moved on to the next neighbor's home (the last house on the little dirt road through town) and lay down a flame trail. From there, he crossed the little dirt road and continued his slow walk, circling the little homes across the street -- staring at the ground and laying down a flaming trail.
I paced the porch and hoped no one would wake up, that no one would hear him, and that he would return safely, and I fervently wished that he had, like, you know.... asked permission first or something. Can you imagine what they might think, waking up in the dark of night and seeing the crazy gringo neighbor circling their house while laying down flames?
Remarkably, not one neighbor awoke, and no flames went out of control... and also in his intent wandering, he discovered the Mother Lode! Yes! He found the entrance to the underground citadel of chancharas (we call them army ants). He has plans for how to completely eradicate that little empire, to be accomplished on another night.
What he successfully accomplished last night, was the saving of entire trees. These chancaras can completely denude a tree in a short time, and then move on to the next. It's how we lost our guava tree last season.
Our dearest village friend -- brother at heart -- had dropped by earlier in the evening with a pouch of ant poison. He had noticed the advance of the army the night before that and was determined to stop them in their tracks. Once Robert was alerted, he went on high-action mode. Rather than letting Guille lay down a long trail of poisonous powder, he brought out the flame-thrower and Guille gave him full approval for its use.
This morning, I wandered along the trail of the flame-thrower. Not much to see. Incinerated ants don't leave much behind .. and also, the free-range chickens don't miss much of what's left!
As for the concept of incinerated foliage -- there was none. We all keep our yards as clear of growing plants as we can. Certainly NEVER is there grass. Bare dirt is preferred. Flowering plants and bushes are kept in containers That way, scorpions and small lethal blue snakes (for instance) have nowhere to hide.
We left for this particular town trip before the next-door neighbors even wandered outside, so we don't know their reaction -- if they even can tell what happened while they slept. That's probably a good thing.