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Wednesday, 07 October 2015 09:12

Southern Floodwaters Home to Ant Islands

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They may not be islands you want to visit, but they are an example of the extraordinary lengths a creature will go to survive nature’s fury. The heavy flooding this past week in the Southern United States has devastated South Carolina. However, many observers have spotted floating islands in the flood waters that, while initially looking like clumps of debris or dirt, turned out to be alive.

People were seeing masses of fire ants linking together in order to keep their collective heads above water. These drifting colonies can range in size from thousands to millions strong, and are aided greatly by the ant’s anatomy. Not only are the ants helped by their size and well-known proportionate strength, but also their exteriors, which are water repellent.
Their organizational skills also come into play, as these giant groups can organize into these “islands” very quickly, sometimes in less than two minutes.
However, even after they form their own life raft, it isn’t all smooth sailing for the ants. Their ability to float is dependent on the surface tension of the water, according to an article by Live Science on this phenomenon. If any material that messes with that tension gets into the water during the flooding, such as soap, it could spell doom for the ants as the go under the surface and drown.

By Trent Townsend

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