Hurricane Joaquin has been wreaking havoc on South Carolina lately. Stories of its devastating consequences have been all over the news. Thousands of people have lost their homes and the surrounding city has been almost entirely destroyed by the heavy rainfall and insurmountable flood waters. As you can imagine, such a tragic storm has not only taken its toll on the human population in that southern state, but also on the wildlife. Luckily, nature has a way of taking care of its own, and some local species have found ingenious ways of surviving.
Fox News reporter, Adrian Acosta, went out to survey the hurricane’s damage and report on the destruction, when he came across what he first thought were piles of mud floating in the waters. A closer perusal led him to realize that these weren’t globs of brown mud after all, but were, instead, little “islands” of live ants. Fascinated by how these ants could survive being immersed in water, Acosta went home and researched the topic. This led him to a National Geographic article in which a group of researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology described this same phenomenon following floods in other areas.
The researchers explained the complex ant behavior by stating, “They’ll gather up all the eggs in the colony and will make their way up through the underground network of tunnels [in which they live], and when the flood waters rise above the ground, they’ll link up together in these massive rafts.” Working together in this way, all of the ants, including the ones on the bottom, are able to survive the flood, as long as they never let go. The tiny hairs on their bodies trap bubbles of air next to them so that they can continue to breathe even when overcome by the waves, and the entire raft will bob right back up to the surface of the water.
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