Yes, Floating Fire Ant Nests Are a Real Thing

Image AP

Image AP

As if massive flooding isn't enough to deal with residents of Houston are now facing large groups of fire ants.

As it turns out, individual fire ants have a slight resistance to water already, but when they band together they can create a terrifying red mass on the surface of water. The ants' ability to trap air pockets makes them buoyant and, for the submerged ants at the bottom of the raft, provides a source of oxygen, according to the study. The queen is kept safe in the middle of the raft, while fire ant workers protect larvae and eggs by keeping them in their mouths. "Instead, their colonies emerge from the soil, form a loose ball, float, and flow with the water until they reach a dry area or object they can crawl up on", Paul R. Nester of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service wrote in a warning about the fire ant flotillas.

This is a topic of some interest right now because people are learning that ants do not drown when it floods.

People with allergies to them can also get angry welts or even anaphylactic shock from the stings. According to the Washington Post, fire ants are "aggressive, territorial and venomous".

Entomologists said such behavior of fire ants is totally normal, but an unwanted encounter with these tiny creatures may lead to life-threatening allergic reactions depending on the severity of stings.

"You definitely don't want to get covered in fire ants", says Matt Shadlow, from the UK-based insect conservation society Buglife.

Should you come in contact with one of these floating horror shows, avoid it at all costs.

They have successfully colonised the southern United States and form ant rafts when a major storm occurs, according to Science Alert. You can try drowning them by adding dish soap or detergents to the water around floating colonies.

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