How Many Legs Do Ants Have? Interesting Facts For Curious Kids

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Nov 02, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Jan 10, 2022
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How many legs do ants have? An ant has six legs.

Ants are insects that are commonly found everywhere in the world.

Like ticks and cockroaches, ants are also widely considered pests due to their large numbers and their ability to sting or bite. Ants are also known as insects that are very hardworking.

Ants belong to the scientific family of Formicidae. They are part of the Hymenoptera order, along with wasps and bees.

In a way, bees and wasps are related to ants. Ants evolved from a wasp species during the Cretaceous period.

Ants can be differentiated from other insects through their thin waists that are formed by a distinct structure that resembles nodes and through the unique shape of their antennae which appear elbowed. There are various ant species such as house ants, fire ants, and carpenter ants.

Even though each different species of ants have their unique aspects, there are a few features that are common among all of them.

Like most other insects, ants also live in clusters. However, ants have a very systematic and hierarchical structure.

Ants have many different body parts, and their legs help to carry them from one place to another. Read on to find fascinating facts about an ant's legs.

How many legs do ants have?

Like most living things that move around, ants also have dedicated body parts that help in the process of locomotion. These are legs that are present in multiple pairs.

An ant has three pairs of legs, meaning six legs in total. Two front legs, two in the middle, and two in the back on each side of these creatures' bodies.

All three pairs of legs are situated in the mesosoma area of an ant's body along with the wings. Energy and power to the legs are provided by the muscles present in the mesosoma area. It is not easy to count them with naked eyes due to the tiny size of these organisms.

Do all ants have six legs?

Ants, along with spiders, belong to the phylum of arthropods. However, while spiders are also arachnids and have eight legs, all ant species, even with their different sizes, are arthropods and have six legs.

The legs of an ant not only help it to walk faster, but they also help the ant carry the weight of the food it may be holding. However, walking with all six legs is a difficult task.

Like most insects, an ant adopts its own unique locomotion process for walking. In this process, the legs are divided into two groups. Only one group of legs is used at one time.

Each group has one middle leg from one side and two front and back legs from the other side. For example, a group would have the right side middle leg and front and back legs of the left side.

During locomotion, while one group touches the ground, the other is in the air. There is a phenomenon called the aerial phase where their legs do not touch the ground.

This is seen in humans as well as most animals. However, an ant always has at least three legs on the ground. This is known as sprinting gait, which allows these insects to start running without any prior preparation.

It can be especially seen in running ants. Apart from ants, the phenomenon of sprint gait during the process of running is also seen in some birds, cockroaches, spiders, and even crabs.

How Many Legs Do Ants Have

What are the different parts of ant legs?

An ant's legs, whether they are big ant legs or small ant legs, are segmented or jointed. There are various parts that make up an ant's leg.

Each individual leg has three joints and two hooked claws. Claws are located at the end of the feet, which help in climbing any surface as they grips onto the surface that the ant is walking or climbing on.

There are touch receptors present on the feet. These touch receptors help an ant to understand the surface it is walking on. They are also utilized by an ant to communicate with others.

Apart from the claws and the touch receptors, the leg of an ant has parts such as the femur and tibia. These are bones that are also present in humans. These body parts of an ant are extremely important to help it to move from one place to another and also to escape predators.

Why do ants have hair on the legs?

Similar to other arthropods, an ant also has hair that covers its body. These hairs are known as setae and they are connected to the nervous system.

The setae are also present on each leg of an ant. They also have touch receptors that help these animals communicate with each other and feel their surroundings. The setae can also perceive sound. This means that an ant is able to hear through its leg, or leg hair.

What other body parts do ants have?

The body structure of a worker ant consists of three areas, the head, mesosoma, and gaster. While the ant's head area includes antennae, mandibles, compound eyes, and ocelli, the mesosoma area consists of the legs.

The gaster area that follows the mesosoma includes the petiole, postpetiole, and sting. These body parts such as the ocelli, postpetiole, and sting are only seen in some ant species. These can only be seen on a closer look.

The idea of an ant's body consisting of just the head, thorax, and abdomen is not true. While the thorax and the abdomen do exist, the thorax and the front abdomen are fused together in the mesosoma area, while the back abdomen is part of the gaster.

The whole body of an ant is covered by a hard exoskeleton that helps in protecting the ant.

The antennae on an ant's head are extremely important for its survival. The head of an ant is used to understand the world around it, just like the human brain. This understanding of its surroundings is possible through its antennae that taste, touch, and smell anything in its immediate vicinity.

Ants, similar to many other insects, have compound eyes. Compound eyes are made up of many lenses that form a singular image in the brain of an ant through combination.

An ant can use its compound eyes to hunt for prey, and such ants have bigger eyes. Some ant species also have three ocelli which are simple eyes used to detect light.

An ant's mandibles, just like its antennae and eyes, are also very important. These mandibles act like human hands as an ant doesn't have forelegs to hold onto food.

These mandibles are used for the purpose of holding, carrying, cutting, crushing, digging, hunting, and fighting. They are also used to bite in some ant species, also including releasing the formic acid as a defense mechanism.

Did You Know...

A group of ants living together is known as a colony. Each colony has a hierarchy that consists of the queen at the top.

Apart from the queen, a colony of ants also includes worker ants that carry out the tasks of building their homes and collecting food. A worker ant follows the command of the queen ant. This hierarchical structure is very similar to what bees have.

Not all worker ants are the same. Smaller worker ants carry out the general tasks of caring for the eggs and the larvae and building their nests. They are also known as minor workers.

Meanwhile, bigger worker ants are known as major workers or soldiers. The duty of soldier ants is to provide protection to the other ants and defend their homes that are their colonies. Because of this, soldier ants have larger heads and mandibles.

A queen ant remains inside the colony for most of its life as it lays eggs in the nest. The queen ant is away from the nest and seen outside only when the mating season is ongoing.

The queen ant, who is a female, has wings right from the beginning. She loses these wings after the mating is over. The queens are even bigger than the soldiers.

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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