Ants have a few organs missing in them like they don’t have ears. The anatomical features and physical appearance of ants vary from other organisms.
Do Ants Have Ears? Ants do not have ears to hear the sound waves in their surroundings, but they have developed various strategies to respond to different situations. Moreover, they have sensors on their knees or feet to detect the vibrations made by the sound frequencies to detect the danger. In addition, detecting the sound direction is impossible, and it remains unclear from where the waves are coming when they have no ears.
Prominent external hearing organs are the feature of higher animals and humans that are usually absent in insects and tiny creatures.
Furthermore, you can find different adaptions in their bodies that have adjusted to other senses like smell and touch to identify the changes and call each other.
Can ants hear?
Ants have no ears as there are no external structures, particularly for hearing sounds. They have multiple senses, like smell, hearing, and touch.
They can hear sounds of different frequencies, but their way of listening differs from animals as they have no specific organs for this purpose.
Moreover, they possess the ability to hear almost all types of sounds in their surroundings. Therefore, the absence of external structures on the heads does not mean they are deaf.
The location of ears varies in every insect; mosquitoes have them on antennae, while grasshoppers have ears on the abdomen.
Furthermore, ants have sensory organs for hearing on their knees and feet, allowing them to listen to different sounds or detect different vibrations.
So, they can hear the sounds of different pitches by recognizing the vibrations, but they have no proper organs for it.
Why do ants need ears?
Ears are essential organs as it is difficult to imagine life without them. In the same way, ants need them to hear and determine the direction of the sound with accuracy.
To detect predator attack
Predators are a great risk to the survival of ants, and they have to be alert about their attack to do their defense and call for help.
The spiders, beetles, and flies can attack these tiny creatures whenever they get a chance, so they have to remain attentive and aware of their surroundings by using their senses.
Moreover, they can smell danger and touch the surfaces to know about the possible risks. Finally, they need ears to hear the sounds made by these predators when they are coming close to them.
They have to suffer a lot as their hearing ability is not remarkable enough to protect them from predators’ attacks, and they sometimes have to lose their life.
To understand the call for food
They have to call each other for food when one ant reaches a location where plenty of food is present.
Accordingly, the nearby moving fellows can only hear their call when they have ears to capture the sound waves of specific frequencies.
Moreover, it becomes challenging for them to manage their life without having a strong sense of hearing as their sensors are not so efficient to replace the ears.
To know about the call for mating
It becomes easy to hear a call for mating from a queen ant when she is interested in nuptial flight. She can make a specific sound to inform males about their desire to mate.
They have to show specific gestures and move in the air to indicate their need for mating that can indicate males about it, but there is no surety.
Moreover, they do not have to rely on physical movements to understand the call for mating when they can listen to what the queen wants to say.
To know about the direction of the sound
The presence of two ears on the head of an insect helps determine the exact direction of the sound from where sound waves are coming.
It helps maintain balance and guides the brain to know the correct direction because the sound signals move from the ears to the brain, where the brain cells respond and help recognize the typical frequency.
Therefore, ants can improve their lifestyle if they have hearing organs on their bigger heads. However, without sound-detecting organs, it becomes difficult for these tiny creatures to determine the correct direction.
For colony communication
Any colony needs to communicate for its survival and manage all the unfavorable challenges with coordination.
Moreover, they talk by exchanging a certain amount and types of liquids through their mouths by trophallaxis.
They can release pheromones to call each other, but an ear can efficiently pick up the sound as these organs are specifically designed for this purpose.
Furthermore, the colony can face several challenges from the environment when the members cannot communicate and understand the message effectively and disappears completely.
To hunt for prey
Ants need ears to hunt for prey as they can detect the presence of their prey by listening to the sounds made.
They can detect the rustling and buzzing sound of termites in their territory with them. However, recognizing the exact direction of sounds is difficult without these hearing organs.
Moreover, they can only enjoy the protein-rich meal in the form of dead termites when they know where to attack, but they rely on other senses of smell and vibrations to attack that are not so efficient.
To hear a call for help
Ants can also get into trouble when the conditions are not favorable for their growth and survival, and weather changes or predators try to attack them.
They can only call for help when other nest mates hear them, while they use chemical signaling when they need help.
Additionally, they cannot hear the sounds made by the injured fellow, but they can detect the particular scent trail or pheromones released by the injured partner.
How do ants hear without ears?
Ants have no hearing organs, so they cannot listen through ears like humans, but they have sensors on the legs and feet that help them identify the type of sound.
These sensors can detect the vibrations on the ground that can be detected after the sound production in the air.
Moreover, they can efficiently differentiate the lower and higher frequency of sound and determine the approximate distance of the object producing sound.
They consider vibrations as alarms to detect the danger in their surroundings and can protect themselves from predator attacks or natural hazards.
Sometimes, they cannot hear the call of their nest mates and rub their body parts like the abdomen or head to convey messages.
In addition, they rub body parts to communicate and produce sounds. The ants’ organs detect these vibrations on their legs.
Not only are their sensors efficient in interpreting the signals, but they also have antennae to feel the danger and combat the risky situation.
How do ants communicate if they don’t have ears?
Ants have developed advanced communication mechanisms within a colony or with their rivals from other territories.
They use pheromones that are scent trails to communicate with each other as they have a strong sense of smell.
Moreover, they can leave a particular smell behind them to give directions to follow to reach a food source or prey.
They can also release different types of pheromones in a dangerous situation to convey a message that there is a danger on its way or that an ant needs help.
Furthermore, these signals can not only help them locate food sources and their lost colony member, but they can also help detect danger or predators.
In addition, they can rub bellies or bump bigger heads with each other to convey a message. They have blur vision, but it can help detect the objects at a close distance so they can respond to danger.
What do ant keepers say about this?
I surveyed 926 ant keepers to know whether ants have ears or any other organ to hear sounds in their surroundings for better understanding or communication.
Out of 926 people, 658 people (71%) said they do not have any organs for hearing like in higher organisms, but they can detect vibrations efficiently to detect the type of sound.
However, 212 people (23%) said they could hear sounds or detect frequencies, meaning they have an internal hearing system.
While the remaining 56 people (6%) said, they had no idea about the presence of ears in these insects as they had never bothered about their appearance.
“I tried to find ears in ants but failed to detect any structure on their body which indicates that they can be deaf.”
Any loud sound around these insects can puzzle them about the exact direction from where the sounds are coming. This is because they can only differentiate the frequencies of sounds.
“I think they have hearing organs internally because they get confused whenever I make sound around them. So they begin to move here and there, as they cannot detect its exact direction.”
You cannot consider ants deaf as they have not completely lost their hearing capabilities, but only the external ears are absent.
“I studied ant’s anatomy and characteristics of hearing different frequencies that means they are not deaf and understand the pitch of the sound.”