Almost all ants have small bristles-like structures on their bodies that are essential for their survival, as they are involved in crucial functions of their lives.
Do Ants Have Hair? Ants have hair on their head, thorax, abdomen, and legs, known as setae, that can help sense vibrations and threats in the surroundings. Moreover, they provide better traction and grip on slippery and vertical surfaces, regulate body temperature, allow communication and help determine the direction of movement. Furthermore, there are almost 30,000 to 32,000 hair per mm2 on the legs of the weaver ants that are 35 to 42 µm long and 2.5 to 2.7 µm thick.
Ants are different from higher animals as they lack fur and have hair on their bodies. Moreover, the composition of their hair is different from those of animals, as they are not made of keratin.
What does ant hair look like?
Ants have tiny erect hair on their bodies consisting of thick and hard material chitin, unlike humans, consisting of keratin protein.
They look like an elongated prism and reflect light. One of their sides is flat, while the other two sides are corrugated.
Most have 35 to 42 µm long and 2.5 to 2.7µm thick structures with varying color and size. Silver ants have silver hair on the entire body, covering the legs, abdomen, and head region.
The velvet ants are known for their velvety appearance, as their bodies are densely covered with short microscopic hair of yellow color.
Moreover, their body color appears reddish or yellowish, while some patches of black bristles are also present on their bodies. The bullet ants have red-black bodies with dark-colored hair.
The fire ants and carpenter ants appear golden, with yellowish hair covering amber or yellow-colored bodies. The black ants have dark black bodies covered with black and white hair.
Why do ants have hair?
Ants have hair on their bodies that help them perform functions like movement, communication, defense, and other activities to ensure survival.
Regulation of body temperature
The presence of hair on the outer surface of bodies can help maintain internal temperature when the external temperature fluctuates.
It is difficult for these insects to move on hot and cold surfaces without any barrier between the two surfaces, so they act as a barrier for their bodies.
Moreover, they form a thick layer and keep them warm in cold weather, as they can freeze to death when their bodies get exposed to cold air.
Accordingly, cold air and even scorching sun rays have little effect on their bodies due to the thick layer of bristles on their bodies.
Moreover, when examined under an electron microscope, the Silver Saharan ants have the bulk of the hair on the dorsal side of their bodies.
It lives in the hot Sahara deserts where the temperature reaches above 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is deadly for these insects.
So, these structures protect them from dying by reflecting the sun rays to keep themselves cool. It is estimated that these bristle-like structure helps reduce their body temperature by 8 to 10 times.
Better traction and grip
They have hair on their legs and feet, providing better traction on slippery surfaces. In addition, they can maintain a grip on different terrains and move efficiently on a gravel surface.
It is fantastic to see them climbing on the smooth surface of the wall and tree trunk, which is only possible due to the presence of hair on their feet that help maintain balance on different surfaces.
In addition, their feet have sticky pads, spines, and hair that will never let them fall and keep them stuck to the ground surface.
Detection of threats and vibrations
They do not have ear-like structures on their head and rely on their senses or receptors to detect the sounds and vibrations produced by sounds of different frequencies.
They have setae with sensory receptors on the ends that can detect vibrations on the ground and keep them alert for dangers or threats.
These can pick up different sound frequencies and interpret them to modulate their behavior. In addition, these insects have sensilla on their tiny legs that detect vibrations.
The sensory receptors help ants communicate with their nest mates and understand the message delivered by their fellow insects.
They can capture the chemical secretions or molecules in the air and send signals to the brain. Brain cells analyze and interpret these signals and send a message or nerve impulse to body cells to respond.
These insects release different types of chemicals in various situations that can help other colony members to understand what they want to say.
Furthermore, they cannot effectively understand the message without these bristles having sensory organs because they lack ears and speaking power.
Determine the direction of movement
Pheromones chemicals are the markers or tags in an ant community that help other ants to follow the path and reach the final destination, which can be a food source or nest.
These insects smell chemicals on the ground and odor molecules in the air through the hair on their head and other body parts to determine their direction of movement.
Moreover, detecting the right direction and moving becomes challenging if they do not have such sensory organs, as they will get lost in nature and die.
What is the hair in ants called?
Ants’ hair is known as setae which are bristles-like structures having sensory organs at their tips. These bristles are embedded deep into the insect’s skin and extend outward from their exoskeleton.
Most of the members of phylum Arthropoda have setae connecting with their nervous system. These setae can detect the chemicals through taste or smell receptors and respond to touch.
Moreover, the signal will be transferred to the brain when they smell odor molecules and taste the chemical secretions on the ground through setae.
Accordingly, these setae help transfer messages from their surroundings to their internal nervous system for analysis by the brain.
How many hair do ants have?
Finding the exact number of hair on ants is challenging, as these microscopic structures are dispersed all over their bodies from head to abdomen.
Velvet ants are probably bushy than many other species, as their bodies are covered with these tiny bristles. Silver ants are known for having maximum hair on their bodies in all species.
It is estimated that almost 30,000 to 32,000 fine hair are present in one square millimeter surface area of their legs when weaver ants got examined under the microscope.
Furthermore, hair shedding is also common in these insects, like higher animals, as clean cutting at a diameter of a few micrometers from their scalp is observed in these insects.
Where do ants have hair?
Their bodies are entirely covered with fine hair that is not clearly visible to the eyes. Their heads are coated with tiny bristles sensitive to touch and smell.
Moreover, their thorax and abdominal regions are also covered in addition to their legs and feet.
The sticky pads on their feet have dense brush-like structures to maintain a grip on the ground. In addition, the dorsal regions of their bodies are densely covered with fine hair that is not easy to count.
Furthermore, you cannot see an array of bristles-like structures on their bodies with the naked eye, and even hair on their larger abdomens is only visible under a microscope.