Ants Survive in Floodwater by Using their young ones as Floating Life-Preservers

Ants Survive in Floodwater by Using their young ones as Floating Life-Preservers

Researchers have come up with an interesting finding that ants use their helpless infants to ensure their survival in the event of flooding. Ants place the young ones at the bottom of life rafts to maximize the buoyancy, thereby increasing the chances of their survival. But this puts their young ant brood at severe risk of being drowned or eaten by hungry fish.

"It was an interesting contribution. No one had really looked at this idea of the brood as a flotation device. It adds a level of sophistication to the rafts that was previously not understood", said David Hu, a mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Tiny size of ants must not give a reason to others to underestimate them as in large numbers they are a formidable foe. They are well capable of building bridges with their bodies so that others can walk over. Also, they surround intruders and roast them with their body heat to death and when come across floodwater, they link up and form rafts so as to float to higher, drier ground.

The researchers also found that worker ants place the queen in the centre of the ant raft and protect the queen from the water on all sides. However, it is the helpless brood that is put at the maximum life risk after lining their bodies along the base of the raft.

It was found by further experiments that brood are the most buoyant members of the society and their survival does not face a serious threat because of rafting. This configuration actually benefits the group at minimal cost to life.

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