This article originally appeared and was published on AOL.com
n the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Texans are being warned of a less-than-obvious reason to avoid trekking through dangerous flood waters: fire ants.
Mike Hixenbaugh, a medical reporter at the Houston Chronicle, took to Twitter on Sunday to share horrifying footage of a colony of fire ants floating through flood waters in Houston following the devastating rain that slammed the city over the weekend.
“Pro tip: Don’t touch the floating fire ant colonies,” he wrote. “They will ruin your day.”
Pro tip: Don't touch the floating fire ant colonies. They will ruin your day. #Harvey pic.twitter.com/uwJd0rA7qB
— Mike Hixenbaugh (@Mike_Hixenbaugh) August 27, 2017
Hixenbaugh took to Twitter again on Monday to share another photo of the tiny terrors, saying that the ants were now just feet from his house.
As terrifying as it may seem, Hixenbaugh’s video hardly depicts a rare occurrence — floating fire ant balls pretty much crop up after any sort of major flooding.
“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. “Floating fire ant colonies can look like ribbons, streamers, mats, rafts, or an actual ‘ball’ of ants floating on the water.”
Nester says that Texans should try to avoid trekking through Hurricane Harvey’s flood waters as much as possible.
However, if they cannot avoid it, Nester recommends dressing for the occasion by wearing cuffed gloves, rubber boots and protective rain gear that will prevent ants from getting onto their skin.
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 rowboat, do not touch the ants with the oars since they can ‘climb aboard’ via the oars,” Nester told the outlet.
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