How Many Eyes Does an Ant Have?

The number of wings and legs is almost the same in all ants, but the number of eyes can differ in various ant species.

How Many Eyes Does an Ant Have? Ants have two compound and three simple black eyes on their head that look like an array of traffic signals. It helps them locate food in their territory, detect predators, and differentiate between light and dark. Bigger species like carpenter ants and giant Amazonian ants have bigger eyes and better vision than smaller ones with fewer ommatidia.

Ants do possess eyes-like structures on their bodies, but the acuity of their vision is not good as they can see only blur images in their surroundings.

How many eyes do ants have?

You probably think that ants have two eyes like humans because two prominent black spots are visible on their heads and are perceived to be visual organs.

These are compound eyes consisting of multiple lenses known as ommatidia. The number of lenses within a large eye directly impacts the vision of different species.

The number of lenses varies according to the size of an eye and improves vision when there are hundreds of ommatidia. However, some ant species have fewer ommatidia and cannot see clearly.

In addition, they possess 3 primitive eyes collectively known as ocelli which are not complex or advanced like compound ones.

They form a secondary visual system, help differentiate light intensities, and vary in number in different insects. For example, some species have only one ocellus, while a few have 3 at maximum.

So, you can consider that ants can have 3 to 5 eyes, depending on their species. All of them possess two large compound eyes, but the number of ocelli can vary in them.

Where are ants’ eyes located?

External and internal organs are equally distributed on different segments of an ant’s body, but most of their external organs are attached to the thorax.

Their wings and legs are attached with the thorax region, and the stinger is attached to the last segment or abdomen. However, these organs are located at the head in addition to mandibles and antennae.

The bigger compound eyes are on the head, one on each side, and are clearly visible when you closely see their bodies. However, the ocelli are present on the forehead region.

Accordingly, primitive eyes are located at the dorsal side of their head but are smaller enough to be detected. These simple ones provide support to larger ones in differentiating light intensity.

So, compound and simple eyes are all located on different head regions and look like an array of lights arranged in a row.

Why do ants need eyes?

Like every other living organism, eyes are crucial organs for ants and help improve their living standards. They can manage activities in a better manner by seeing the world.

Although these do not support sharp vision, they can help differentiate objects by creating a pictorial vision of their surrounding objects.

They use visual cues to get back to their nests when they have traveled long distances away from their nests. They memorize visuals in their route while going away from their mounds.

Accordingly, these images are recognized when they return with the loaded food particles on their back or abdomen.

The lenses capture light rays and create an image by focusing on different segments. Every lens magnifies a different section of the object and creates a collective image.

Moreover, ocelli are simpler eyes that can sense varying light intensities and transfer messages to the nervous system. These are not involved in pictorial vision but differentiate light intensities.

What does an ant’s eye look like?

Ant’s eyes look like two small dots on the heads and appear black in color in almost all species of these insects. They are arranged in the form of an array and look like traffic lights.

Compound eyes are present on the same axis but on the sides of the head and contain thousands of ommatidia. The simpler ones are arranged in the form of a triangle and close to compound eyes.

Moreover, their size and shape vary in different ant species, as some insects are a few millimeters bigger than others and have larger body organs.

Accordingly, the size of visual organs varies according to gender or castes in a colony, as female workers are usually smaller than male drones.

There are around more than 100 to 600 ommatidia in a single compound eye of a few species, which means these contain hundreds of optical units to capture light signals and produce an image.

In the same way, the diameter of the lens is around 33 micrometers at maximum, and the rhabdoms are 5 micrometers in diameter, allowing insects to capture the light of low intensity.

Can ants identify different colors?

Ants have color vision, but they are not able to identify different colors as their lens are only sensitive to green, red, blue, and yellow colors when there is high intensity of light.

However, the sensitivity level is slightly different in case of low light as they cannot identify red color but can still see objects in blue and yellow.

They can also be trained for a particular response after seeing specific colors by linking a reward with success. Additionally, they can see colors falling in the range from green to blue.

They possess only three light receptors, and the lens can interpret only red, blue, and green lights. As a result, some of these insects can efficiently see objects in the dark when there is no sunlight.

Most ant species can differentiate objects as light and dark without identifying the exact shape and structure.

The diurnal species remain inside the nest because underground activities do not require visual acuity and can rely only on touch receptors for functioning.

Furthermore, their compound eyes can only see a few colors depending on the light wavelength and interpret only 3 colors falling in an accurate wavelength.

What type of ants have bigger eyes?

The size of eyes depends on the species and caste of insects in a colony, as they have to perform a function according to their body length and physical features.

The winged reproductive members in a colony commonly possess three ocelli, while the foragers have smaller bodies and have only 1 or 2 ocelli.

However, the soldiers in a colony are chosen based on their bigger size as they have to protect the colony and detect predators when they are coming closer to nests.

In the same way, some insects living in dark conditions usually have smaller eyes and fewer ommatidia because they do not have to differentiate objects or benefit from pictorial vision.

Flying carpenter ants and big-headed ants usually have bigger eyes as they have to hunt for animals or insects in their surroundings to kill and eat them.

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