These huge colonies travel on the water after floods and tropical storms. They are an engineering marvel.
Kelly Loftin, an entomologist and professor at the University of Arkansas, told the Washington Post the raft building exercise is a communal one designed to keep the colony’s queen and young safe.I have a continual red ant problem at my home. I was bit several times last year and the painful bite of multiple fire ant bites on my foot was akin to getting hit with a sledge hammer. Excruciating for several weeks.
“The queen is kept safe in the middle of that raft,” he added. “The workers are keeping the eggs and the small larvae safe from the water and oftentimes they’re doing that by holding them in their mouth.”
The ants trapped underwater on the bottom side of the raft collect bubbles to raise up the raft so it can float, Loftin said, but the ants constantly switch positions, so that no ant remains submerged in the water for long.
Curious creatures. How are their complex signals transmitted by the hive mind? We know that ants can communicate by sound, by touch, by emitting pheromone smells and by swapping fluids through their mouths. But the precise signals to keep a floating a 500,000 insect convoy aloft, with military grade instructions on position swapping, simply boggles me.
I feel kind of bad for killing the ants. And maybe they sent a signal out that I was a schmuck. At coffee yesterday my friend and neighbor Ron asked me if I had a bee problem? Said that they had become very aggressive at his place, would strike without warning.
Went home early yesterday to fix a sprinkler, wearing my zorries. Out of nowhere a long yellow wasp struck the soft flank of my right foot. Incredible pain, all night. Did everything to curtail the agony, ice, Benadryl, cortisone cream. Leslie made a baking soda, aspirin poultice and it seemed to finally do the trick this morning. Perhaps the fire ants have a protection deal worked out with the wasps and I am currently persona non grata in my region of the insect world? Who knows? And isn't it interesting that my friend gave me the warning on the sting that very same day?
The real action is the fungus, the mounds, the invisible stuff, she talked about the concept of mycelial interconnectivity, everything is connected to everything else in the old growth ecosystem. Perhaps there is a botanical group mind? Look forward to reading the book, which we bought at the talk.
Which made me think back to a book I read decades ago, by the late psychonaut Terrence McKenna with his brother Dennis, under the pseudonym of Oss and Oeric. Been a couple decades but if I remember correctly, they mapped out a big invisible interconnected fungal web over in psilocybin land. Which apparently works on connecting individual parts of the human brain that were heretofore not speaking.
Doctor Rupert Sheldrake took the concept even further, postulating the presence of electrical type "morphogenetic" fields that could transfer knowledge through the ether and change dna without having to go through traditional evolutionary processes.
How is information like this transferred? How do ants know when it is time to paddle and time to surf? Beats the hell out of me. People who have explored psychedelic states of consciousness will tell you that there is definitely some arcane transmission occurring. Have seen multiple examples real time personally that I won't bore you with.
Fire ants build Eiffel Towers out of their own bodies.