31 Aug '14, 12pm

When threatened by flooding, fire ants have an amazing strategy to move their colony to safety

When threatened by flooding, fire ants have an amazing strategy to move their colony to safety

When threatened by flooding, fire ants have an amazing strategy to move their colony to safety. They assemble into a living raft , which is surprisingly buoyant even in rough currents. When the raft reaches land or a tree, the ants swarm out of the water to safety. A new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Biology takes a deeper look—literally—at these floating colonies. To investigate the interior structure of the raft, researchers at Georgia Tech froze the raft and scanned it with a miniature CT machine. In addition to gripping one another with their legs, fire ants also connect to their neighbors using adhesive pads and their mandibles. The researchers analyzed 440 ants, and found that on average a single ant makes 14 connections, attaching itself to 4.8 neighbors. The ants orient their bodies perpendicularly to one another. "It's kind of like looking inside ...

Full article: http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/researchers-re...

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