Fire ants build living rafts to survive rainy seasons and floods. Georgia Tech scientists are learning if a fire ant colony’s capability to respond to modifications of their environment throughout a flood is an instinctual behavior and how fluid forces make them respond.
Hungtang Ko and David Hu will present the science behind these insect habits, focusing their discussion on how the living raft modifications to size under various environmental situations on the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics 72nd Annual Meeting on Nov. 26.
The red fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) can optimize its means to repel water by linking its body along with tens of thousands of its peers to construct huge floating colonies. “We think the response is an active process. Fire ants are capable of sensing the change in force when completely different fluid conditions are applied,” Ko stated.
The researchers discovered totally different fluid behaviors, such as vortexes, might change the size of the fire ant raft in a number of ways. They found the rotation of water can inhibit exploratory behaviors of particular person fire ants, whereas centrifugal movement doesn’t affect the colony.
Stronger physical bonds between individual fire ants result in durable and safer rafts. The individual ant’s capability to respond to environmental changes is essential to the sustainability of their raft and the survival of the colony. The session, “Shrinking spinning fire ant rafts,” will probably be offered on Tuesday, Nov. 26 as a part of a session on biological fluid dynamics and collective behavior.