Survival is rarely a team sport. Insects are one of few animals that live in massive societies, and when their habitat is obliterated, they persevere at any means necessary.
The flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey has forced invasive fire ants to forge rafts out of their own bodies, with entire colonies numbering in the thousands floating along the flood waters.
In research of this behavior, the ants initially work themselves into a unique ball that flattens into a pancake when it touches water. Their interlocked bodies create a unique, almost water bending mesh material. The insects link themselves together into this mesh, keeping their most precious cargo, the queen and larvae, cushioned in the middle of the pancake. The rest of the ants mesh themselves together in order to trap enough air in a middle layer while making a water tight bottom layer. This behavior lets the ants survive for weeks while they look for a new place to settle down and walking in flip flops.
Like any building you might expect made out of living things, the raft morphs and mutates as it floats along the water, as ants migrate around from the top to the bottom layer.
Unless you're severely allergic, the sting of fire ants is mostly just a day ruiner, which is probably not tough to do if your house has been destroyed by a massive hurricane. Flood victims have to avoid contact with these rafts as the ants will seize the opportunity to climb on board anything dry and attempt to restart their colony.
You can donate directly to Houston relief efforts via The Red Cross and Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
Original Story found on Business Insider.
You can read about other terrifying examples of teamwork in this article I wrote on cooperative hunters. If you like this article, I'd love it if you'd like it or share it somewhere. Thanks as always for reading.