The looming invasion of South Carolina by “tawny crazy ants” brings to mind this old proverb: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Then again, as too often confirmed in international relations, the enemy of your enemy might turn out to be your enemy, too.
So don’t too quickly assume that the tawny crazy ant is our kind’s friend just because it kills fire ants in mass quantities.
As reported by The Post and Courier’s Bo Petersen in Monday’s paper, the tawny crazy ant “breeds fast enough to put rabbits to shame and swarms in masses that mow down anything in their path.”
After making their way from South America to Texas in 2002, tawny ants migrated eastward to Georgia by 2013.
Then last year they started showing up near the Savannah River in our state. And as our story put it: “They are expected to start sweeping coastal counties this year from Jasper to Georgetown — in other words, the Lowcountry, according Eric Benson, Clemson University entomologist.”
Professor Benson added:
“Once established, this invasive species multiplies very quickly and can overwhelm its new surroundings. These ants feed aggressively on anything organic and can outstrip an area of available food resources. They can even kill ground-nesting animals and become a danger to poultry, livestock and agriculture.”
See, fire ants aren’t the only species imperiled by tawny crazy ants.
They also are a proliferating menace to buildings — including homes — by swarming over floors and into electrical outlets, shorting out power supplies.
At least they don’t literally sting people.
Yet their figurative bites can be costly.
So before signing any non-aggression pacts with these newcomers, keep in mind that overlooking the negative effects of an enemy’s enemy can be crazy, too.