Despite their tiny bodies, there is a lot more to the ants’ anatomy than meets the eye. To start, their skeleton is outside their body. This is known as an exoskeleton, and it contains all the organs and the muscles of the ant. The exoskeleton serves a protective function, being hard enough to deflect damage from predators.
Ants stand out, even among other insects. They have a distinct look, with a body formed of a head, a thorax, and an abdomen along with connecting segments.One large segment known as the petiolus connects the thorax and the abdomen. The petiolus may be unnoticeable in some species of ants, but nevertheless it serves the essential function of allowing the ant to be flexible and survive in combat. This flexibility is used to bend the abdomen beneath the body, and spray poison or acid from the glands found therein.
Ants also have interesting eyes, which are similar to those of flies, in that their eyes are compound and they differ from species to species. For example, certain woodland ants have very large eyes, while others have eyes that are tiny, depending if they are evolved to venture outside their nests, or spend their entire lives underground. On top of that, within a species itself you have differences when it comes to the eyes. Male ants and queens have an extra three ocelli which are positioned in a triangle shape. The purpose of these eyes is still poorly understood today.
We can then look at their mandibles to see another interesting aspect of the ants’ anatomy. These insects have two larger mandibles, two lower mandibles, along with an upper and lower lip. The mandibles have serrations on them, which allow the ants to saw through materials and kill other insects.
Things get really interesting when we look at these insects’ internal organs. Ants do not have a heart. Instead they have one large artery that goes through their entire body, and which pumps their transparent blood. They also have a brain and a nervous system. However, they do not have lungs. Instead, they have openings throughout their exoskeleton which circulate oxygen in their body. This means that ants never breathe. Instead, the oxygen just passes through them and is absorbed passively.
Ants are interesting from several perspectives, from the way they structure their colonies, to their caste systems, behavior and all the way down to their anatomy. They are also still being researched and scientists are making new discoveries about these insects today. However, we mostly know them for invading our homes. If you have an ant infestation that is getting out of hand, contact us today and we can eliminate it.