Weatherwatch: ants use ingenious ways to escape flooding

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Many people say that ants can forecast rain, building their nests higher or using different nest materials, even though there is not a shred of evidence that they can actually predict any rain.

What is certain is that many ants in flood-prone areas use ingenious ways of coping with far too much water. Some build walls of earth and twigs around their nests to prevent flooding, and other species block the entrance to their nests using stones, dirt or twigs, some even pressing their heads together to block up entrance holes. Australian mangrove ants (Polyrhachis sokolova) live in dense mangroves that flood regularly, and they build nests of mud with sealed pockets of air to prevent water invading the nests. Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) escape floods altogether by going rafting – they pack thousands of their tiny bodies tight together by grasping each other’s legs, forming a living raft that can float away on water for weeks in the hope of finding somewhere dry.

Close-up of a fire ant
Fire ants are named for the fiery pain caused by their sting. Photograph: Getty Images


Perhaps most enterprising of all, bamboo ants (Cataulacus muticus) keep dry by drinking any rainwater seeping inside their bamboo nests. Crowds of ants then go outside and jettison the water by urinating en masse – what is called “communal peeing”.

Article Source: The Guardian