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Author Topic: Do ants get stuck in shallow water?  (Read 1039 times)

Offline thedoc

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Do ants get stuck in shallow water?
« on: 22/02/2016 17:50:02 »
John Baldwin asked the Naked Scientists:
   Why would 5 small ants be unable to make progress out of a small 19mm in Diameter pool of water.
My feelings are it is related to the water tension of the surface and that they can not break it to gain a foothold.
This was observed following rain the water being very fresh and containing do dissolved solids, my assumption.
The ants were 2 mm long black ants.
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 22/02/2016 17:50:02 by _system »


Offline evan_au

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Re: Do ants get stuck in shallow water?
« Reply #1 on: 23/02/2016 11:10:32 »
Those are probably your average suburban ants.

In areas subject to regular flooding (like the Amazon), ants form floating rafts that carry small groups or the whole colony to safety.

Offline Don_1

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Re: Do ants get stuck in shallow water?
« Reply #2 on: 25/02/2016 17:26:41 »
Many small, light insects have the ability to 'walk on water'. Their bodies are so light in relation to the surface area that they do not break the surface tension of water. They can even stand on their legs, due to the microscopic hairs usually used to enable them to walk upside-down, creating a comparatively large surface area.

As Evan wrote, some ants join together to form floating rafts. Some even create floating bridges, enabling the safe passage of ants carrying eggs across water.

The problem for insects walking on water is that they are at the mercy of water flow and/or wind strength and direction. In order to successfully propel themselves in the desired direction, the ant would need to overcome surface tension, but this would result in disaster for the ant. It would drown.

Pond Skaters, on the other hand, can propel themselves across water at phenomenal speeds. At 3 mph for the Pond Skater, we would need to swim at 400 mph to match them, pro rata. This is achieved by the Pond Skater being supported on its two long hind legs and two shorter forelegs, while the two middle legs act as oars with the very tips of the hairs on these two legs just penetrating the water's surface.

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Re: Do ants get stuck in shallow water?
« Reply #2 on: 25/02/2016 17:26:41 »


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