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Amid the horrific devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, several islands of fire ants have been spotted floating on the rising floodwaters in Houston.
The fire ants, which are known for their painful bites and venom, appear to have perfected their survival skills by coming together to create a raft or a structure of some sort.
A study released in July from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that fire ants are able to link their bodies together thanks to the sticky pads underneath their feet.
When they do unite, the moving ants from afar resemble a pile of dirt or wood chips.
Amid the horrific devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, several islands of fire ants have been spotted floating on the rising floodwaters in Houston. The above image was shared to Twitter by CBS National Correspondent Omar Villafranca showing the ants in an island
The fire ants (pictured above in a Houston retention pond), which are known for their painful bites and venom, appear to have perfected their survival skills by coming together to create a raft or a structure of some sort
Photos and videos shared to social media in recent days from the Houston area show the creepy insects floating, as experts are advise people to not touch the ants.
CBS National Correspondent Omar Villafranca tweeted a photo of fire ants formed into a 'protective island' floating in the city.
Houston Chronicle reporter Mike Hixenbaugh tweeted a video showing the red ants on Sunday and advising not to touch them as they will 'ruin your day'.
The captivating video shows thousands of the dangerous ants grouped together in a dark colored mound as the entire colony floats on water.
Making things more interesting, a study from 2011 from the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a group of fire ants can sustain buoyancy in water from days to as long as weeks. Plus, they can get into formation to create a raft in as quick as 100 seconds.
The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension service has urged people to use extreme caution around floating fire ant islands.
'Avoid contact with floating mats of fire ants. If you are in a row boat, do not touch the ants with the oars since they can 'climb aboard' via the oars,' Texas A&M Agrilife Extension specialist Paul Nester wrote in the guidance note.
'Occasionally, floating ant masses are encountered even indoors in flooded structures.'
He also advised people working in floodwater to dress appropriately.
'Cuffed gloves, rain gear, and rubber boots help prevent the ants from reaching the skin. If they do, they will bite and sting,' he wrote.
'Remove them immediately by rubbing them off. If submerged, ants will cling to the skin and even a high-pressure water spray may not dislodge them.
'However, a spray made of diluted biodegradable dishwashing liquid may help immobilize and drown them.'
Nester wrote that even after flood waters disappear, fire ants 'can be underneath anything'.
'When picking up debris, pay attention to what is on, under, or in it - especially if the debris has been sitting in one area for several days,' he wrote.
'Fire ants love to get under carpet strips, furniture, and old wood to re-establish their colony.'
This is not the first time floating fire ants have been spotted during floods.
In 2015, the colonies formed rafts during the floods in South Carolina.
Texas Health and Human Secretary Dr Tom Price declared a public health emergency on Sunday after flood waters created opened up a slew of hazards.
As well as the more immediate risks of drowning or being trapped without food, floodwater brings a very real threat of infection, disease and dangerous vermin.
These are some of the threats posed by the still-rising water levels throughout the state.
While the rain might be clean, what it dredges up from the sewers and around the area is not.
Floodwater can contain harmful sewage, chemicals and waterborne germs that can cause infections and diseases for people.
People in Texas could in turn get viruses from ingesting the water or food that has been in contact with the floodwater, which would cause symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Use of hand sanitizers and purified water at shelters is recommended by officials.
Objects that have been submerged in water can also cause infection if touched or used after.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends parents to throw out toys for children that were in the rain water unless they are thoroughly cleaned.
Trench food - which causes skin to itch, swell up, blister and peel off - is also possible after extended exposure to dirty water.
Floodwater can be dangerous for people with open wounds, particularly if they have other health conditions.
Sharp objects hidden in the water could create cuts that then become filled with water-borne bacteria, causing infections.
And the harmful bacteria dredged up from the sewers and other unsanitary locations could require strong antibiotics than usual.
People with open wounds are advised to keep them clean, wrapped and away from any of the dirty water.
It's also advised that everyone get a tetanus shot, as glass, metal and other debris could lead to the life-threatening illness.
The pools of stagnant, warm water left after the hurricane ends will be a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes - which can then spread infections.
Zika and West Nile were among the diseases that saw increases in areas of Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.
Poor people are particularly at risk as they don't have the air conditioning and screens that can filter out the parasitic insects.
Continuous use of insect repellent is recommended to avoid infection.
The use of generators to power homes can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, experts warn.
'Any sort of roof over a generator is actually a problem,' the CDC's Renee Funk said, adding that battery-operated generators are a better alternative.
'When people go in and out to refill the [covered petrol] generator they can be overcome,' she explained. 'If a structure is attached to the house, the house can fill with fumes.'
Mold is also a health hazard, the CDC warns, and all drywall and insulation tainted by floodwater or sewage should be removed from homes.
Mattresses, pillows, carpeting - even stuffed toys - should be tossed out. Hard surfaces can be disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water.
If mold covers more than 100 square feet, a trained mold remover should be sought out, experts say.
As many as 10 per cent of those who survived Katrina were left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), said Dr Pierre Buekens, Dean of Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
That was likely to also happen in Houston, he said - thought he said most people were resilient and would get through it.
People who have strong bonds with friends and family tend to recover easier from PTSD after a natural disaster because they have a support system.
Counseling is recommended for people with lingering mental illness concerns after the natural disaster.
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