It is interesting to observe the extraordinary behavior of tiny ants on the water surface as they adopt amazing mechanisms to ensure their survival in undesired circumstances.
Can Ants Walk on Water? Ants can walk on water as their bodies are small and lightweight, which helps them to float on the upper surface. Moreover, fire ant species form raft-like structures by clinging together through the mouth, feet, and tips of claws. The black carpenter ants and silky field ants can also walk through a water puddle. Furthermore, they can survive on water for a few weeks to months when they form rafts and live underwater for 20 to 24 hours.
Ants are usually not considered good swimmers as their smaller bodies and tiny legs do not support swimming, but they can float over the water’s surface.
How can ants walk on water?
Ants have lightweight bodies that keep them floating over water if they get exposed to heavy rain and flooding. You can see them moving on the upper surface of the water after rain.
Their exoskeletons can efficiently repel moisture and keep them floating on the water’s surface.
A group of insects will become buoyant rafts that can help survive during floods as they can walk on liquid surfaces.
They have six legs attached to the thorax region, having tiny hair and thick spines that help them maintain a grip on irregular vertical surfaces.
Their hairy legs act like paddles for maintaining balance on elastic surfaces to ensure their survival due to its high surface tension.
Moreover, their tiny bodies have less weight, so they cannot break water surfaces acting like elastic sheets.
In addition, a few species, like fire ants, are found to build rafts after flooding and maintain a floating position for a long.
These rafts are formed by a group of ants clinging together by mouth, sticky feet, and tips of claws. Every single ant is connected to a neighboring ant at 14 points resulting in a larger mass.
Furthermore, their walking movements are slightly modified than those on the ground as they use their mid and forelegs to propel their bodies forward.
Some carpenter ants rely on their forelegs to walk on the water surface, while field ants elevate their bodies from the upper surface using their legs and do not break the surface tension.
Why do ants walk on water?
Many people cannot imagine ants walking or swimming on the water as these are land animals that are usually seen crawling on the ground surface.
However, these insects can easily walk or float on a small drop or surface of water in a bowl.
They prefer to live in moist conditions and reach moisture sources to keep their bodies wet.
There is a risk of falling into a partially or completely filled bowl when they get slipped from the edge of the bowl filled with liquid while trying to get moisture.
Sometimes, this accidental fall will lead to their death as they cannot remain in a floating position for long.
In addition, they have to cross a water puddle when they have detected a food source on the other side using their sense of smell.
These insects will form a bridge on the small puddle and make efforts to cross it without drowning.
Furthermore, it becomes essential for these tiny insects to walk on water during heavy flooding after rain. Rainwater enters deep into their nests and destroys their nest.
So, they have to form bigger rafts to maintain their position on the surface and reduce the risk of drowning and death.
What type of ants can walk on the surface of water?
Every ant species cannot walk on water as they are naturally born to navigate the ground. However, black ants are commonly present in houses and forests, and their nests are prone to flooding.
The black carpenter and silky field ants are known for their extraordinary swimming performance as they have bigger muscular legs.
These two species are not closely associated with water but efficiently move through it during hazardous situations. Both of them use their mid and forelegs to move forward.
Moreover, these field ants can swim and walk in the water puddle, but carpenter ants have to swim to reach the dried surface quickly to avoid the risk of drowning.
Some field ants shift their behavior from swimming to walking and keep their bodies higher than their legs while propelling themselves forward.
Furthermore, fire ants are also known to form larger rafts by attaching to other fellows forming a large lump-like structure that keeps them on an elastic surface.
These insects usually attach the young babies as life-preservers and stick them under rafts formed by clinging ants. This attachment of young brood helps prevent the risk of drowning.
For how long can ants walk on water?
They have varying capabilities of retaining their bodies on the water as it depends on the type of species and the amount of liquid.
They can easily make their way through a small water puddle by walking across it, but heavy flood makes it difficult for these insects to retain themselves on the surface.
Fire ants are known to maintain a floating position for longer than others. These can even live underwater for 20 to 24 hours as they can survive without oxygen for some time.
However, they can walk for a few weeks to months after making a raft. A large group of these insects support each other and ensure the colony’s survival until they reach a dry place.