Footage shows massive colonies of fire ants floating in Hurricane Florence floodwaters

Alex Lasker

In wake of Hurricane Florence, victims in the storm's path are being warned of a less-than-obvious reason to avoid trekking through dangerous floodwaters: fire ants.

Gadi Schwartz, an NBC News correspondent, took to Twitter on Monday to share horrifying footage of "millions and millions" of fire ants floating through the streets in North Carolina following the devastating rain that slammed the city over the weekend.

As terrifying as it may seem, Schwartz's video hardly depicts a rare occurrence — floating fire ant balls pretty much crop up after any sort of major flooding. The creatures were spotted exhibiting similar behavior after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017. 

"Floodwaters will not drown fire ants. Instead, their colonies emerge from the soil, form a loose ball, float, and flow with the water until they reach a dry area or object they can crawl up on," Paul R. Nester, a specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, told the Houstonia Magazine after the storm. "Floating fire ant colonies can look like ribbons, streamers, mats, rafts, or an actual 'ball' of ants floating on the water."


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Sadly, if you thought boats would be able to keep you safe from the floating monsters, you're completely wrong. 

"If you are in a row boat, do not touch the ants with the oars since they can ‘climb aboard’ via the oars," Nester told the outlet.

People in areas affected by Hurricane Florence have also been cautioned to look out for snakes, including venomous cottonmouths and copperheads, lurking in the storm's floodwaters.

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