The Swimming Ant

One of the delights of writing a book is covering eccentric topics. Chapter 11 of AAA investigates the physical world of the ant, including such matters as swimming and falling. Long experience in the rainforest had shown me that ants have to be good swimmers as a matter of course. But some species turn swimming into an avocation. At a mangrove swamp outside Townsville, Australia, James Cook University professor Simon Robson showed me the conical nest entrances of Camponotus schmitzi that are flooded at high tide. Workers hunt for small crustaceans when the ocean is low. If caught in the rising water they swim back to their nests. Those that arrive too late must wait out the high water on the trunk of a nearby mangrove tree. As this picture shows, the ants use the foremost legs to swim while the back pair are held behind like rudders.

This blog expands upon page 142 of AAA.

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