Islands of venomous fire ant colonies spotted floating in rising floodwaters in Houston

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
By Paul Martin

Colonies of fire ants floating on rising floodwaters in Houston have been spotted
Photos and video shared to social media show the insects in formation together
Officials advise people to not to touch them, as their bites are painful and sting
One official said: ‘If you are in a row boat, do not touch the ants with the oars since they can ‘climb aboard’ via the oars’

29 August 2017

Amid the horrific devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, several islands of fire ants have been spotted floating on the rising floodwaters in Houston.

The fire ants, which are known for their painful bites and venom, appear to have perfected their survival skills by coming together to create a raft or a structure of some sort.

A study released in July from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that fire ants are able to link their bodies together thanks to the sticky pads underneath their feet.

When they do unite, the moving ants from afar resemble a pile of dirt or wood chips.

Photos and videos shared to social media in recent days from the Houston area show the creepy insects floating, as experts are advise people to not touch the ants.

CBS National Correspondent Omar Villafranca tweeted a photo of fire ants formed into a ‘protective island’ floating in the city.

Houston Chronicle reporter Mike Hixenbaugh tweeted a video showing the red ants on Sunday and advising not to touch them as they will ‘ruin your day’.

The captivating video shows thousands of the dangerous ants grouped together in a dark colored mound as the entire colony floats on water.

Making things more interesting, a study from 2011 from the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a group of fire ants can sustain buoyancy in water from days to as long as weeks. Plus, they can get into formation to create a raft in as quick as 100 seconds.

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