In emergencies, fire ants get lots of grips to form rafts

In emergencies, fire ants get lots of grips to form rafts

Inside look at how insects make instant architecture shows the power of extreme grabbing

By Susan Milius, 13:44 PM June 17, 2014

The first scan inside a tight ball of fire ants shows that crisscrossing grips and the absence of slackers makes living rescue rafts.

“Imagine if you had 100,000 people trying to build a raft within a few minutes,” says mechanical engineer David L. Hu of Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. An individual ant isn’t an innately buoyant material for a raft. It’s slightly denser than water. But during floods, a writhing ball of about 100,000 Solenopsis invicta fire ants needs only two or th...

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