Scientists have made a terrible, yet fascinating, discovery: fire ants can form into living towers to survive flooding.
The insects have shown their survivor instincts before by forming rafts made up of thousands of ants, as seen above in footage captured in Texas last month.
These bugs are determined to survive — and it doesn’t just stop at rafts. A study out Wednesday from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found fire ants cluster together to form towers of hundreds of thousands of ants more than 30 ants high, all to escape floods.
The study, published in Royal Society Open Science, says the ants have evolved to link their bodies to keep colonies together. Sticky pads at the bottom of their feet help build the structures that protect the bugs from rain and water.
In their lab, the researchers filmed ants building 26 different towers to see how they built the structures without getting crushed and to see what the towers looked like. They found that it took the ants about 25 minutes to build the towers that are wider at the bottom than at the top. It appears fire ants emulate structures like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and not your typical skyscraper.
The New York Times put together a video about the ants’ building skills, which grossed out and simultaneously impressed most of the internet.
Sleep tight. 🐜
Video credit: Facebook/Ron Wooten via Storyful.