There are many impressive things about ants, but one of the most impressive is the strength of their teeth. And yes, ants do have teeth – the protruding jaws that you can often see on an ant’s head are actually mandibular teeth. These teeth have a high zinc content, which gives the ant bite its tremendous strength.
The fire ant bite
We all know that fire ants can cause a tremendous amount of pain, but it is not their bite that we have to worry about. Fire ants have stings which deliver a painful toxin, using a mechanism similar to that of bees. The toxin is a venom that affects the nervous system, and some of the symptoms include intense pain, a burning sensation, itching, and in some rare cases, the sting can actually lead to hallucinations.
The strength of ant teeth
Ants have strong teeth not just due to the presence of zinc – it is the configuration of the zinc atoms in the teeth. The zinc is arranged in a pattern that ensures maximum cutting efficiency, to the point where ant teeth are 40% stronger than human teeth, and require just 60% of the effort to achieve the same results given equal jaw strength. This peculiar zinc structure also prevents the teeth from going dull, and it keeps them sharp for as long as the insects are alive.
The strength of the ant’s body
Ants also have very strong bodies, with some ants having neck joints that are able to support 5,000 times the ant’s body weight. In fact, ants have been seen carrying dead baby birds, which are roughly 1,000 times the weight of an ant. When combined with the powerful teeth, ants become capable of amazing feats of strength.
It’s interesting that insects which have evolved to live collectively and help each other out at every turn have so much individual strength, and it goes to show that these small insects are the result of millions of years of evolutionary selection. This strength is also a part of the reason why ants are capable of surviving and thriving in a huge variety of environments.
If you have an ant infestation, now you know what you are dealing with. Luckily, most ant species will not use this tremendous strength for destruction, but we still have to get rid of them when they are in our homes. Contact us today if you have an ant infestation and you would like to have it removed.