Scientists in Georgia have filmed incredible video showing how South American fire ants link together to form living-life rafts and avoid mass drownings in their natural rain forest habitat.
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have done perhaps the only serious engineering study that involves dumping a bunch of fire ants in water and watching what happens. Engineering professor David Hu and grad student Nathan J. Mlot were interested in reports they had heard of South American fire ants forming massive rafts out of themselves and clumping together during flooding, and after gathering up fire ants by the roadside in Georgia, they put the anecdotes to the test.
According to National Geographic, Georgia Institute of Technology engineering professor David Hu and graduate student Nathan J. Mlot, along with Georgia Tech systems-engineering professor Craig Tovey, collected fire ants and dropped them in water to test the ants’ acclaimed survival skills.
“They’ll gather up all the eggs in the colony and will make their way up through the underground network of tunnels, and when the flood waters rise above the ground, they’ll link up together in these massive rafts,” Mlot said.
In under two minutes, the insects spread across the water’s surface, joining together to form a single drowning-resistant unit.
The findings are published in the April 25 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Check out the amazing video:
Photo Credit: EOL Learning and Education Group via Creative Commons