As Hurricane Harvey continues to damage and demolish parts of Texas, there is a new danger that has popped up and is becoming a real problem for the citizens of Houston. The immense flooding has not even come close to stopping just yet and it has brought about the dangers of wildlife, damaged and demolished homes, and even washed away roadways. Now, citizens are having to deal with rafts of floating red fire ant colonies that could bring about serious injuries.
Yes, there are actually large colonies of red fire ants which are banding together and floating through the waters that have taken over Houston. As many people are trying to evacuate their homes, they are wading through knee-deep, waist-deep, and even shoulder-deep water at times.
These new “rafts” of fire ants could pose a potentially serious risk to their well-being if one was to float into them or if someone waded through one. The Washington Post reports that the red fire ants will save their own lives by joining together and forming these rafts which float on top of the water. All of their legs and jaws are locked together until they find a new place to land.
Unfortunately, that “new place” could be someone wading through the water to safety.
— Houston Chronicle (@HoustonChron) August 28, 2017
According to WGN TV, the ants work together to protect themselves and so as not to drown. When the water gets to be too much for them, they will all connect together and set off toward somewhere that is dry and safe.
Paul R. Nester is a specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and he states that “floodwaters will not drown fire ants.” The colonies floating on top of the water can hold as many as 100,000 of the red fire ants.
Fire ants are floating in the flood water from Hurricane Harvey.. pic.twitter.com/R2eYjZLAWc
— The Refresher (@_TheRefresher_) August 28, 2017
The video may show the island of fire ants floating along at a very slow speed, but that all depends on the current of the water. If the water is moving or being pushed or rushed forward, the colonies will move at a higher rate of speed. Should you be in their path, they will move faster than you since they’re floating on top of the water and a human being would be going through it.
Fox News warns citizens to stay out of floodwaters due to the incredible number of dangers that can’t be seen in them until it is too late. The “flotillas of fire ants” are a serious and real danger in Houston which can be mistaken for solid ground.
— Omar Villafranca (@OmarVillafranca) August 27, 2017
Experts suggest that if you absolutely must venture out into the floodwaters, have as much of your body covered and protected as possible.
Nester states that water won’t do the trick, but a “spray made of diluted biodegradable dishwashing liquid” could drown the fire ants. If the ants make it onto your body and skin, rub quickly and vigorously to get them off of you.
Hurricane Harvey has already brought about death, damage, destruction, and power outages to more people than can even be counted. There are a lot of real dangers in the flood waters and the rafts of red fire ants may sound humorous, but they are a serious problem. As people are trying to make it through the waters to higher ground and safety, they need to be on the lookout for these floating fire ants so as not to become their next target.
[Featured Image by David J. Phillip/AP Images]