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After Harvey, a fire ant raft in Texas

A mass of live fire ants floating on the Texas flood.

Fire ant raft, by Flickr user Brant Kelly.

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.

Bottom line: Masses of live, floating fire ants following Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Read more about the fire ant raft at The Atlantic

Deborah Byrd

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