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Scientists discover that it takes 10 ants to form a stable raft

The ants prefer not to make a collective raft when they are in the water. However, once there are 10 bugs near each other, the so-called Cheerios effect brings them together and is too strong to counter.

Life


September 13, 2022

Fire ants can form rafts, but would rather not

Andre L Magyar and Candler Hobbs/Georgia Tech

Fire ants can form impressive rafts made up of hundreds of ants. However, rather than this being the result of collective social behavior as previously thought, experiments suggest that the insects are forced together by a fluid phenomenon called the Cheerios effect. If there are 10 or more nearby ants in the water, the effect becomes too strong to overcome.

When an ant nest is flooded, the ant colonies can survive by joining together to form rafts. These are buoyant enough to float…

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