Fire Ants Form Living Rafts to Travel Across Water Bodies

Image via Reddit

These fire ants are some of the most invasive and innovative creatures in the insect world.

Fire ants are aggressive and highly resilient ants contained by the genus Solenopsis. There are over 200 species of fire ants, but the South American Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) is the most notorious of them all.

Red Imported Fire Ants, also known as RIFAs, are a highly invasive species that has invaded countries around the world, including the United States. These ants can survive extreme temperatures and weather, including drought and floods, which they endure in an unusual yet highly effective manner.

When faced with a water obstacle or a terrible flood, fire ants can fashion rafts out of their bodies. Linking their heads and bodies together, the worker ants combine to create a writhing mass that can float across the water’s surface. The hairs on their bodies prevent complete submersion by trapping buoyant air bubbles.

While the workers remain on the bottom of the raft, the queen, eggs, and larvae are kept on top. Since the queens and young ants are the future of the colony, they are prioritized above the other ants.

Watch their amazing raft-building skills in the NatGeo video below.