Outdoors just for kids: Ants go floating one by one hurrah, hurrah

2014-02-27T00:00:00Z Outdoors just for kids: Ants go floating one by one hurrah, hurrah The Billings Gazette

When the weather is warm, I like to go rafting down rivers. My raft is made out of vinyl and has to be pumped full of air to float.

Before rafts like mine were made, people made rafts out of reeds and logs tied together – things that would float atop the water and hold weight. But did you know that some ants also make rafts … out of other ants!

Ants that live next to a river or stream have learned how to survive floods. They all get together and build an ant raft, hanging on to each other to float atop the water.

Some researchers decided to try to figure out how the ants build their rafts. Here’s what they discovered. The queen ant, which is the one that lays all the eggs, is protected by the other ants in the middle of the ant raft. She gets the best spot for the float trip because, after all, she is the queen.

On the bottom of the raft, getting soaked, were the worker ants and the youngest ants not yet fully grown.

The reason the worker ants and the developing ants formed the bottom of the raft is that they were better at withstanding being submerged in the water for long periods of time and they floated on top of the water better than the other ants.

So the researchers discovered that being at the bottom of an ant raft wasn’t as deadly as they had thought. Just like the worker ants, when I go floating on my raft, everybody gets wet and there are no queens.

– Brett French, Gazette Outdoors editor

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Brett French

Outdoors editor for the Billings Gazette.

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