Ants belong to a class of insects and a family of arthropods having appendages, exoskeletons, and segmented bodies. Moreover, they belong to Kingdom Animalia and are invertebrates and are included in the groups of animals that do not have backbones.
Are Ants Considered Animals? Ants are considered animals as they are multicellular and heterotrophic organisms with complex cellular structures. Moreover, they can move, reproduce, and respire. Furthermore, their physical appearance, the complexity of internal systems, the presence of sensory organs and glands, and social interactions make them animals.
Ants share many physical and biological features with animals as their internal and external organs are similar to some extent but have varying complexity.
The social behavior of these insects, cellular composition, heterotrophic nature, and other characteristics make them look and behave like animals.
Ants are social organisms interacting in the environment and building relations with other insects, plants, and animals.
These are involved in symbiotic associations with fungi, showing mutualism and providing protection to get food from them.
In addition, you can find them interacting mutually with plants by protecting them from the attack of predators and fungi to get food from their fruit.
Social interaction is a particular behavior of animals as they prefer to live in the form of groups. In the same way, ants form colonies and interact with each other to ensure survival.
Furthermore, they are also mutually associated with aphids to get a sugary substance or honeydew and protect them from the attack of other insects.
Ants are multicellular organisms as their bodies are composed of multiple cells with varying shapes and sizes.
Their cellular structure is similar to those of animals as they have a cell membrane and lack a cell wall. Moreover, they have chloroplast and a small vacuole inside the cell.
Every cell becomes a part of specialized tissue and organ that is involved in crucial functions like breathing, food digestion, and transfer of fluid to different body parts.
These have millions of cells distributed all over their body, as there are almost 250,000 cells in the brain and around 40,000 cells in the heart.
Similarly, higher animals contain multiple cells in different regions of their bodies, so these are also considered animals with complex body organization.
Ants Have Ability to move
Animals are able to move, and motility is one of the prominent characteristics that allow them to change their location by running and crawling.
Moreover, ants show irregular movement patterns and crawl on the ground, while some species can even jump higher into the air.
They have six legs on their bodies that support the movement, and their sticky feet allow them to move on the walls and ceilings.
Furthermore, they are fast crawlers that can leave a cheetah behind as they can cover almost 0.1 to 0.2 miles distance in one hour.
Ants have sensory organs
The eukaryotic organisms possess sensory organs like eyes, nose, ears, tongues, etc., that help them detect objects by seeing, smelling, hearing, and tasting them.
In the same way, ants have a few sensory organs like compound eyes, antennae, and olfactory receptors that are even more in number than those in humans.
The eyes allow them to have a blurry image of their surroundings, but these can help detect an object when it comes closer.
In addition, antennae help detect chemical signals by touching the ground when it picks up the chemical and interprets the message.
The olfactory receptors allow ants to smell the food’s aroma, making it easy for these insects to differentiate between food items.
Ability to respire
Humans and larger animals have lungs in their bodies that help them breathe appropriately by filtering the air through air sacs.
Similarly, ants have spiracles on their abdominal region that act as breathing pores, allowing them to transfer oxygen to the internal systems.
They have 18 or 20 spiracles arranged on the sides of their abdomen, allowing them to breathe for almost a day when they cannot get oxygen underwater.
Moreover, these breathing pores are connected to fine tubes or trachea that allow oxygen distribution to different body regions.
Ants can reproduce
Ants can reproduce, making them animals as they can reproduce sexually and produce fertilized offspring.
It is a complex phenomenon that involves searching for a partner, selecting a compatible mate, and the mating process leading to the fertilization of eggs.
Their colonies have reproductive males and females that are only grown for mating purposes to ensure the colony’s survival.
In addition, the queen lays eggs that need to be fertilized by sperms to produce larvae.
The queens engage males in a nuptial flight when they can reach almost 250 to 300 feet higher in the air with the help of wings.
After fertilization, the female partner begins to lay eggs after landing on the ground and give rise to a new colony, and the cycle continues this way.
The physical characteristics of ants are similar to animals as they have fur or small hair and scales on their bodies.
Moreover, they have a head and abdomen, in addition to legs, which are physical features of an animal. They have strong mandibles or teeth that help them break hard food particles.
Two compound eyes are also present on the animal bodies for better vision of their surroundings.
They can crawl on the ground with the help of their feet, and their strong legs allow them to carry larger food particles due to better strength.
Furthermore, they have a mouth to engulf the food particles after chewing them with the help of sharp teeth.
Animals are heterotrophic organisms that consume producers to get their nutrition, as they cannot prepare their food like plants.
They eat plants and other insects to obtain food instead of preparing it by themselves, as plants do by photosynthesis.
Ants also depend on available food materials like fruits, seeds, smaller insects, and even birds, as they cannot produce food for themselves.
Furthermore, they feed on honeydew, juicy fruits, and dead organic matter produced by aphids, plants, and other insects.
They can also eat food leftovers that humans prepare, like baked items, sweet dishes, juices, etc. So, these are heterotrophic organisms, which makes them true animals.
Advanced internal systems
Ants have complex internal systems like secretory glands and digestive and nervous systems that can help digest food and produce chemical secretions.
They are sensitive to environmental changes as their sensory receptors allow them to detect unfavorable changes.
Their digestion process is simple because they consume simpler compounds that are easier to break and digest.
Moreover, they have internal and external organs that control all biological functions involving food digestion after consumption and waste material excretion.
They have a nervous system based on a long nerve cord running from the head to the abdomen that can help them detect injuries.
They do not have a four-chambered heart but possess a tube-like structure that helps circulate hemolymph in different body regions.