The ants hold onto each other, knitting together and creating a water-repellent floatation device.

Mechanical engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have studied fire ant's ability to link together and form a raft on the surface of water to survive floods. The ants clump together, into a playdough-like material, which can be moulded into a ball. If put into water, they re-form into a flat shape, giving them waterproof protection. The tightly weaved pattern of the ants grasping onto each other can be compared to something like Gore-Tex fabric. Described on the Ant Lab site at Georgia Tech:

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