Who should regulate the cruise industry here? What should those rules be?
Those and other questions still fuel divisive debate — in some cases even within families — about the ongoing expansion of that branch of the tourism trade here.
Yet both sides in that ongoing dispute should agree on severe restrictions against this particular type of visitor to our Port City:
The big-headed ant.
Or, as Dave Munday more aptly put it in this newspaper last week, “the notorious big-headed ant.”
Relaying information from spokesman Steve Switzer of the local Customs office, our reporter wrote that some of those dangerous, six-legged creatures, “along with a bunch of other insects, were found April 30 in the port of Charleston, crawling around in a container of aluminum scrap metal on a ship from Costa Rica.”
The story also alerted readers to the bigheaded ant’s inclusion on a 100-member list of the “World’s Worst” invaders.
That fearsome reputation didn’t give this particular brand of ant a figurative big head. The name stems from the creepy crawler’s literally oversize head in relation to its body.
And while the menace it poses to native plants and other insects is harrowing enough, its voracious chewing is also a threat to irrigation pipes, electrical wires and telephone cables.
The reassuring news from Mr. Switzer: Those uninvited insects that came our way were apprehended by the authorities, and 10 of them, including one of the bigheaded ants, were forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plant protection and quarantine entomologist.
But no, Customs officials are not inclined to intercept particularly boorish cruise passengers wandering about downtown Charleston — regardless of their head sizes.