A story on TV awhile back about ‘Crazy Ants’ invading the Southeast caught my attention.
On further investigation, it turned out to be a report about a species of weird insect, not about crazy aunts like my late Aunt Thelma and Aunt Maude.
Not that my aunts were crazy, understand, just a tad eccentric at times.
Aunt Thelma, for instance, once grew a squash in her garden that she said resembled Rutherford B. Hayes. She kept it displayed on her coffee table until it eventually shriveled down into a likeness of Pee Wee Herman.
Aunt Maude never mistook a vegetable for a deceased president, but she did once attempt to vacuum her cat, Buttercup, as he slept on the carpet.
That was the end of loose cat hair on Aunt Maude’s carpet, because as soon as Buttercup extracted himself from the vacuum’s suction hose he rocketed out the back door and wasn’t seen again.
As a kid I always enjoyed visits by my wacky aunts because they were lively and entertaining and we shared a lot of common interests such as shooting rats at the dump with a .22 and chewing rabbit tobacco out behind the barn.
They also shared my fondness for my pet garter snake Pete, and didn’t get all worked up and twitchy like my mom when Pete escaped and slithered off to hide somewhere in our house.
In fact, they found it amusing, during the next couple of days of our family’s Snake Watch, to suddenly point under my mom’s chair and shout “There it is!”
Watching my mom’s reaction is how I learned how to Charleston.
Shortly after Aunt Thelma and Aunt Maude went home, Pete was captured and domestic tranquility restored, but for months afterwards my mom tended to glance nervously under her chair before she sat down.
The Crazy Ants in the news awhile back weren’t the same as my Crazy Aunts.
They are a rare species of ant whose scientific name is Nylanderia fulva. They acquired their wacky nickname because of “their unpredictable movement and swarming populations.”
They are described as reddish-brown, about an eighth of an inch long, and “have a hankering for honeydew.”
They are always on the go, eager to see what’s over the next hill or around the next bend of the road. They are the Lewis & Clarks of the insect world.
I guess you could say they get “antsy” if they stay in one place too long.
Crazy Ants were inadvertently transported to the U.S. from South America – stowaway bugs – and since arriving in Southeast Texas they have hitch-hiked to Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Since arriving in the U.S. the undocumented ants have caused an estimated $146 million in damages. They get into electrical wires and cause shortages and fires, and tunnel around foundations, causing structures to topple.
Once they move in there is no known means of permanently exterminating them.
If you spot one in your neighborhood, remain calm and call a professional bug person.
Under no circumstances should you invite one to a picnic.
That’s about all we can do right now, other than hide the honeydew.
It’s hard to believe that such little pests as Crazy Ants can cause such big headaches.
I’ll bet my Crazy Aunts would know how to deal with them.