Many insects prefer to live underground during unfavorable environmental conditions. In the same way, you can see a few species of ants that prefer to live in underground tunnels to ensure their safety.
How Do Ants See Underground? Ants can see underground using their eyes as they can look clearly at the stones or soil grains close to their bodies. Some ant species have developed the brain’s optical lobes to get a better image in the dark as they mostly remain underground. In addition, their antenna can detect or feel every object in its way, and a powerful sense of smell can also help navigate its surroundings.
They can build stable structures inside the ground that look simpler from the outside but contain intricate chambers that are easier to access even in the dark.
How can ants see underground?
Ants can also see objects and differentiate when they come at a close distance as they appear blurred from far.
Their huge eyes can see in the dark and allow them to find their way into underground tunnels using the antennae.
It is a specialized body organ that can feel environmental changes and detect obstacles. Moreover, they can also act like grippers that help maintain a grip on the surfaces.
Moreover, they need antennae to feel the objects underground that cannot provide vision but helps them detect obstacles to avoid them.
They can grab the tunnel route walls that are small enough for only one ant can pass through them. It stabilizes their tiny bodies and helps them investigate the surrounding environment.
You probably know about the smelling power of ants that can detect the chemical signals or pheromones left by their fellows moving ahead.
Their antennae can help detect signals when they touch the ground surface or soil. This way, they can follow a chemical trail left by the leading insect and follow the route to reach the destination.
So, you can also consider that their smelling power and antennae sensitivity can help them find their way through tunnels.
Furthermore, they follow chemical trails even when there is light to find the right path, as their eyes can only give a blurred image.
They have two compound eyes on their head that can help them better visualize the periphery, even in the tunnels.
Their eyes cannot see the world like you do, as they have fewer ommatidia in their lens. Moreover, their eyes appear like LED lights arranged horizontally next to each other.
Moreover, their night vision is also remarkable, unlike other insects that can only see in the daylight and become blind at night.
There are wide photoreceptors in their eyes that help their huge eyes to see objects at night time and navigate the areas under the soil and reach specific chambers inside tunnels.
Some species of these insects have developed their brains to get better sight, particularly the optical lobes.
They prefer to spend their lives underground and facing the issue of vision, so they come out and increase their brain size.
What are the reasons that ants can see underground in the dark?
Soil-digging behavior is common in many ants, which allows them to live under the soil by building specialized compartments.
Build underground tunnels
A few ant species prefer to live underground and build tunnels in the soil. They can only build special chambers when they can see through the soil correctly.
The ant mounds look simpler from the outer surface, but there is a lot of complexity inside it, indicating these insects’ crafty nature and efforts.
Probably, you would think about how these tiny creatures develop such intricate structures. They have compound eyes that can help visualize closer objects and work actively.
They build tunnels deep into the ground with extensive branches on the sides. In addition, they form specific compartments for the young ones that act like nurseries.
Locate soil insects
They can efficiently locate food sources inside soil using their vision as they cannot survive without food for long.
Moreover, they can search for invertebrates and worms in the soil to get nutrition. The seeds and rotten leaves can be dumped in the ground to be used as a food source.
It is only possible when they have proper eyes and good vision that helps them find their way through the soil.
You can find them stumbling in the dark if they do not have eyes, as they cannot get an idea of the depth of the surface.
Moreover, it becomes difficult to look at the small stones, larger soil particles, and other related obstacles, resulting in a poor grip over their surface.
They can get stuck at some point when their vision, smelling sense, and antennae cannot help them. So, they have to see the world even in the dark to gain stabilization.
Furthermore, they can only avoid obstacles when they can detect them using their senses and antennae.
Quick Navigation in complex terrain
The sense of sight and smell of ants can help quick navigation of the complex terrains and antennae and legs that can feel the objects and make them move rapidly.
Moreover, it becomes easy for these tiny insects to move around the tunnel underground in the dark. This is because they do not restrict their movement or get slow down due to barriers.
So, it is essential for ants to get an idea of tunnel depth and move rapidly within the tunnel while making their way through it and their vision helps them a lot.
Can ants go underground at night?
You can find ants active even at night, as the absence of light cannot stop these active workers from doing nest activities. However, they prefer to go underground both day and night time.
Moreover, you can see them busier digging tunnels when there is no light, which means darkness cannot stop them.
They can collect food, feed larvae, build colonies and get involved in other related activities when it is dark.
Furthermore, field ants, also known as wood ants, are commonly seen living under the soil, particularly in Mexico.
You can find them living in the soil of gardens and parks, where they can easily remove soil and build complex tunnels.
How long are ant tunnels underground?
The length of tunnels depends on the colony’s size, as larger ant colonies need more chambers to accommodate the larvae and adult ones.
However, a few small mounds also exist that are usually built by smaller colonies. Most commonly, you can find almost 20 to 25 feet deep tunnels underground.
However, they can also extend from almost 30 to 40 feet below the soil surface, where millions of ants can live in single tunnels having a maximum number of compartments.