They’re not just an animal, they’re a material. And that’s got engineers interested.
Red imported fire ants (solenopsis invicta) are native to South America and an invasive species in the United States. One of the adaptations that makes them so hardy is that they can build large structures by linking their bodies together. This is how they form rafts that can float during floods. When they’re aggregated together, fire ants can be seen as a material and the Hu lab at Georgia Tech has been testing that material for years.