Fire ants, those red-backed insects fascinated biologists, but they've never been a part of research taken by physicists.
Ball of ants
Mostly, the research has been focused on their stings. Why their "bite" is so painful etc. But, there is another rather interesting area of research when it comes to fire ants - their ability to act like a fluid or solid, depend on the situation.
Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology were the first ones who were puzzled by this ant-mass or ant-mess. They did the research almost three years ago, and in this video, you can see amazing performance of fire ants:
The research could have practical implications which build themselves out of smaller bits and for self-healing materials.
In bridge construction, for instance, interest is great in materials that automatically repair cracks. The ants are experts at this kind of repair. When they turn themselves into a bridge for other ants, which they do often, they scramble to quickly repair breaks in any damage to the structure.
source - http://www.nytimes.com/