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A Dandy Design article

Ants and Survival Rafts

Ants How do insects like ants survive massive flooding? It would seem that when an ant colony is covered with 20 feet of water that there would be no survivors, and yet right after a flood ant populations are as numerous as ever. The answer for some species of ants is that when the flood strikes, the ants will build a water repellent raft that can stay afloat for weeks.

Researchers at Georgia Tech have found that the fire ant species Solenopsis invicta use their jaws, legs, and sticky pads to build a raft out of their bodies. As many as 200,000 ants can form rafts as big as two feet across, which are water resistant because of the irregular shape of the raft. The ants hairs trap air, creating buoyancy and forming a two-tiered structure. The ants that are on the bottom and under water are still able to breathe because of the air bubbles trapped among the ants' bodies.

Nathan Mlot, who directed the study at Georgia Tech, says that studying the swarm intelligence that makes the raft seaworthy will give new insights into microrobotics and improved water repellency.

One of the interesting challenges to a system like this is to explain its origin. On an evolutionary scale, one has to postulate that ants accidentally found they could float and avoid drowning by locking on to each other. The origin and design of the ants' hairs, which trap the air bubbles, remain difficult to explain on a chance basis. That is even if one accepts the notion that trying to survive afloat by grabbing on to others explains how the survival skill started. When scientists attempt to explain something like this, they have to make a series of assumptions. Skeptics then repeat the assumptions as if they are facts and say that the theory proposed is how it happened.

We would suggest that God designed ants with the right equipment to build the raft and programmed them to utilize this method of survival when floods came to their area. We have to be reminded of Solomon’s observation in Proverbs 6:6 – 8 , “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” Source: National Geographic.

Picture credits:
© SweetCrisis. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.