Sunday, 11 October 2015

What’s the deal with fire ants building rafts?

OCTOBER 9, 2015 

by Chuck Bednar 

ant raftOdds are if you’ve watched the news at all over the past week, you’ve seen that video of fire ants forming giant rafts in order to survive the flooding going on in South Carolina. (If you have yet to see the footage, check out this video captured by WSAV's Chris Murray). 

 According to Mashable, fire ants can assemble these rafts in ridiculously short periods of time–even in as little as 100 seconds–and a 2011 study published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) indicates that this can keep thousands of them from drowning for several days, possibly for even up to a week or longer! The authors of that study explained that they used time-lapse photography to track a group of fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) to study how the creatures were able to link their bodies together so that they could form a waterproof raft. They discovered that the ants could significantly enhance their ability to repel water by linking their bodies together for an unusual survival mechanism. 

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