Ants aweigh!

In a flood, fire ants cling together to keep afloat

By Stephen Ornes, 17:06 PM May 11, 2011


Don’t go it alone: Ants cling to each other to create a floating raft. Credit: Nathan Mlot and Tim Nowack.



Fire ants are famous for their construction projects (as well as their burning bites). When they need to, colonies of these insects turn themselves into ladders, chains and walls. And when floodwaters rise, a colony can float to safety by making an unusual boat. The ants hold tightly to each other, forming a buoyant disk atop the water. The ant-raft may float for months seeking safe harbor.


In a recent study, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta found that fire an...

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