Note: This is not the same group of ants referred to in the story.
A FOX Carolina reporter witnessed an unusual sight while covering flood conditions in Greenville County, S.C. Sunday – an island of ants floating on the surface of the water.
While this is a first for the fire ants, there have been other reports of ants floating together in areas of flooding – most recently when there was deadly flooding in Texas.
While this may seem odd, it’s actually very common.
According to livescience.com, fire ant rafts can be put together in about 100 seconds.
A pile of 500 ants floats on water in a laboratory.
Scientists at the Georgia Tech used timelapse photography to investigate how fire ants build their waterproof ant rafts.
Fire ants can survive in a raft up to several weeks, though they must eventually reach dry land if they are to restart their colony.
“Although the raft is porous and its base is below the water level”, explains Nature’s Lizzie Buchen, “none of the ants are submerged, or even get wet”. The team calculated that each ant’s grip strength was equivalent to a force 400 times its body weight.
David Hu, an engineering professor, said that the water-resistant shells have helped them stay afloat.
Fire ants have adapted to maintain the integrity of their colony by utilizing this innovative survival technique during floods.