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Video: Ants Build a Raft of Bodies to Ride Out a Flood

If they all band together, they float.

by Derek Mead
Mar 21 2013, 8:30pm

Ever wonder how ants survive floods? I mean, even half an inch of water is enough to cover the little guys. But if they all band together, they float.

Props to Reddit user kiddywinks, whose mind was appropriately blow, for pulling out the clip above, which is part of a long (and equally mind-blowing) documentary on animal swarms. While it doesn't mention which of the 285 species of fire ant this is, the video says the fire ants in question are originally from the tropics, where they of course had to deal with plenty of rainfall. They do so by locking up bodies into a giant ant raft and floating along.

Building body structures is far from rare in the ant world. Army ants, which swarm all over the forest floor eating everything in their path, build bivouacs out of their own intertwined bodies. Yes, living ant nests are a real thing. But ant rafts are perhaps the most fascinating, simply because here you've got ants willing to stick to the bottom of the pile to keep the queen and larvae afloat.

But they're not as doomed as you might think. As research from 2011 showed, ant rafts float not simply by being bouyant, but by physically repelling water. That's amazing stuff, unless you're in the water with them.


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