Fire ants are banding together into stinging horror rafts to survive Hurricane Harvey’s flood

Residents of the Houston area affected by Hurricane Harvey have spotted an unusual risk in the floodwaters: colonies of fire ants that have joined together to form floating rafts.

Fire ants are an invasive species native to South America, and they have successfully colonised the southern US. Whenever a major storm blows through, bringing flooding, these ant rafts appear.

To escape floodwaters, the venomous insects quickly link together, with the queen and larvae at the centre of the raft.

The ants mesh themselves together tightly enough to trap air in the middle, with the ants on the bottom knitted so tightly that water can’t get through.

The raft mutates as it goes, with ants travelling across the top and joining the stationary layer on the bottom, according to one study of the dynamics of these structures.

The authors of that study wrote that some of these rafts may have more than 100,000 stinging ants.

Fire ants can survive in these structures for weeks or even longer, though they’re constantly seeking new dry land to colonise as they float.

For that reason, boaters need to be careful to avoid the rafts. The ants will climb onto a boat and can even climb aboard via a stray oar if given the opportunity, according to a publication by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

While an isolated sting is painful, it’s usually only serious for people with an allergy. But a whole colony can deliver real damage.

The National Weather Service is warning people in Texas and Louisiana to avoid the flood water for other reasons as well – it may carry an electric charge from downed power lines, or hide dangerous debris.

As for the ants, they’re just trying to escape too, but if you come across a colony, steer clear.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

More from Business Insider:

Source link

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Surprise discovery shows we have been totally wrong about the size of Andromeda galaxy
11 Tips That Can Help You Learn Faster
Scientists Just Made Sheep-Human Hybrids. Here’s What You Need to Know
We finally know how vampire bats are able to drink blood and survive
This weird brain change found in foxes shows how dogs became our best friends

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *