Colonies of fire ants forming into giant floats in rising water is becoming a real problem in Texas, thanks to Hurricane Harvey.
Houston Chronicle reporter Mike Hixenbaugh tweeted a video Sunday depicting hundreds of thousands of fire ants, warning those who encounter the cluster of ants to not touch them. Another person in Cuero, Texas posted a photo Tuesday of a massive group of these fire ants, claiming that the population is growing.
Meanwhile, in Cuero, the river has brought my aunt all of the fire ants. Yes, those are all (of the) fire ants. pic.twitter.com/dEibWYxAdl
— Bill O’Zimmermann (@The_Reliant) August 29, 2017
— Mike Hixenbaugh (@Mike_Hixenbaugh) August 27, 2017
A National Weather Service rain gauged southeast Houston and recorded 49.32 inches of rain from Harvey, the highest rainfall total from a tropical storm or hurricane in U.S. history.
Fire ant colonies survive floods by gathering together and forming a raft with their bodies.
“Floodwaters will not drown fire ants. Instead, their colonies emerge from the soil, form a loose ball, float, and flow with the water until they reach a dry area or object they can crawl up on,” Paul R. Nester of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service wrote in a warning about the fire ant flotillas. “Floating fire ant colonies can look like ribbons, streamers, mats, rafts, or an actual ‘ball’ of ants floating on the water.”
If the ants touch the skin, “they will bite and sting,” according to Nester.
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