Sometimes it floods in Texas, but nothing like the scale we’ve seen this week, following Hurricane Harvey. Brant Kelly photographed this fire ant raft – a mass of live fire ants, floating on the flood waters – on August 27, 2017 in Pearland, Texas, which is south of Houston.
EarthSky is in Texas, too … our thanks to the many kind readers who enquired as to our well-being. We’re fine. It didn’t flood here in Austin, this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow Texans and Louisianans on the Gulf coast.
We’re also fairly used to bugs in Texas, but maybe people in other states are less so, and perhaps that’s one reason why this photo, and the tweet below, have gone viral. Meanwhile, Alex Wild (@Myrmecos on Twitter), curator of entomology at University of Texas at Austin, told The Atlantic:
[Fire ants] actually love floods. It’s how they get around.
He said fire ants displaced by water are known to form rafts, and that a lot of fire ants displaced by a lot of water will form really big rafts. But he also tweeted, in response to the tweet below from Bill Zimmerman (@The_Reliant on Twitter):
Holy crap. I have never, in my entire career as an ant researcher, seen *anything* like this.
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
Bottom line: Masses of live, floating fire ants following Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.