After the recent South Carolina flood, one insect is showing off its clever strategy for survival.
Fox Carolina’s Adrian Acosta recorded footage of a group of fire ants clinging together to form a life raft as they float on the water.
Acosta said he initially thought he was looking at a pile of mud, but closer examination revealed a swarm of ants.
The phenomenon is, in fact, a common survival tactic for fire ants faced with flood conditions.
As researchers studying the behavior in 2011 explained in National Geographic:
“In less than two minutes the ants had linked “hands” to form a floating structure that kept all the insects safe. Even the ants down below can survive this way, thanks to tiny hairs on the ants’ bodies that trap a thin layer of air.”
A reporter from NBC affiliate WSAV spotted and recorded another cluster of ants performing the buoyant feat in Dorchester County, South Carolina.
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Lessons From Fire Ants After The South Carolina Flood
Looking at these ants, you can’t help but wonder what can be learned from this incredible phenomenon seen after the South Carolina flood. Scientists have found out that fire ants can float on water, whether alone or as a group. A single ant relies more on the natural water repellancy of its exoskeleton than surface tension to keep from drowning.
When fire ants find themselves in floodwaters, they come together (hold hands or feet?) and form a plastron layer strong enough to keep all of the tiny insects on the surface of the water. What’s even more surprising is even the ones on the bottom will not die from drowning.
The naturally engineered life raft is quite strong; attempts have been made to break the cluster up or push them down into the water but the sheer strength and agility of these ants ensure that they simply cannot be drowned.
Cooperation is the lesson that can be picked up from this interesting piece of news despite the South Carolina flood. Obviously we don’t have waterproof bodies or Herculean strength. What we can do in disruptive events especially natural disasters is help each other to survive.