Floating fire ant colonies turn up in Houston flood waters


Floating fire ant colonies turn up in Houston flood waters

Fire ants live in sand nests, and are common pests of the southern US.

As the rain hammered the country's fourth-largest city, pushing thousands of residents from their homes as they sought refuge from the impacts of tropical storm Harvey, the photos and videos began cropping up everywhere - floating islands of ants that were similarly trying to survive and escape the extreme weather event. Allergic reactions have even led to death - potentially causing dozens of deaths in America. The ants on the bottom switch places with the ants on top so they don't drown.

Louisiana etymologist Linda Bui has also conducted research that suggests fire ants release higher venom doses and become more defensive during floods.

Don't touch the floating fire ant colonies. University of Texas curator of etymology Alex Wild said he'd never seen anything like the swarm in Cuero during his entire career researching ants.

"If one of those rafts comes in contact with you, or you try to break it apart, it will likely disperse and crawl up you", Tim Davis, an entomologist at Clemson University, told USA Today in 2015.

"They don't come to attack you".

"They're just really unpleasant creatures", Schmidt adds. Others found hope in the fire ants' strength and togetherness. No adults have ever died from fire ant stings, though their venom hasn't been widely studied in labs so it's hard to say what the lethal dose would be.

Drop the same clump of ants near a plant on solid ground.

If you do get stung, the most important thing to watch for a severe allergic reaction characterized by tongue swelling, shortness of breath, and sweating, and needs to be treated by a medical professional.



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