Ants are not entirely dependent on their eyesight to perform functions, but it makes them stronger and more efficient as vision can help them locate food quickly and detect predators.
Which Ants Are Completely Blind? Army ants and members of the Dorylus species are completely blind as they usually have no or only 1 ommatidia in their compound eyes that cannot capture enough light to process an image. Bull ants have more than 3000 optical units and can see better than many other species, while fire and carpenter ants also have poor eyesight.
Two compound eyes or black dot-like structures are on their heads that look like traffic lights or an array of LED lights.
In addition, their eyes have multiple ommatidia that are used to process different parts of an image to create a full view.
What type of ants are completely blind?
Many people think ants can see the world as clearly as they can view every object in the universe. However, the vision of these tiny creatures is not broader and sharp as theirs.
They have two eyes with fewer optical units, which is not enough to get a clear image of the world. However, they can have blur images of objects because their eyes only support poor vision.
Moreover, the bullet ants are known to have better eyesight among all of their species because they have larger bodies and bigger eyes.
However, safari or driver ants are commonly found in Africa and are known to be completely blind.
It is the genus of army ants living in or tropical rainforests of America that cannot process an image of high resolution due to blurry eyesight.
Almost 200 to 220 species of these blind insects are present in different regions of the world, in addition to the members of the Dorylus species that are dependent on touch and smell senses.
In addition, they cannot see the beautiful colors of nature and can only smell or feel objects like many other insects, including butterflies.
The workers of Adetomyrma venatrix or Dracula species are also blind and pale that cannot see any attacking insects or food sources.
Furthermore, fire ants can only detect light and dark as their eyes can help them differentiate day and night due to a small number of ommatidia.
How do blind ants survive without vision?
Blind ants can devise different strategies to ensure survival without looking at objects in their surroundings. However, it seems challenging for these eyeless insects to fight and find food.
They are supposed to deal with predators more than others having eyes because hunting insects take advantage of their blindness and kill them as they cannot see an incoming predator.
In the same way, they face issues during foraging because there is a risk of getting several hits from the obstacles in their way.
It is challenging for these insects to ensure survival, but they have adapted to live without vision and evolved.
There were only 90 species of these driver ants in the old world, but their population increased to more than 200 species, indicating a high degree of evolution.
They improved the efficiency of other sensory organs, like olfactory receptors, to detect smells and release 18 to 20 different types of pheromones with varying chemical structures.
These chemicals are released in different situations and help them understand a particular message sent by their fellows. These chemical cues can help them recognize nest mates and foes.
Similarly, these signals can help them reach a food source and feel protected when moving in a group on a trail. In addition, they have sharp and large mandibles to fight predators and capture prey.
Commonly, they eat other species of the same insects and attack other bugs and animals, like frogs, lizards, and a few birds and get nutrition from their blood.
They can efficiently detect vibrations on the ground surface when their predators are heading toward them for an attack.
These can kill foreign organisms without any differentiation by detecting them as a threat to their survival. Furthermore, they prefer to remain underground to avoid attacks.
How do you know if ants are blind?
Most of the ants have eyes-like structures on their heads, but it does not mean that they all can see the world with the same angle or accuracy.
They have varying facets or optical units in their eyes that are directly related to vision. For example, some species have a higher number of ommatidia in their eyes compared to others.
This number variation comes with a difference in body length and eye size. The bigger ones, like bullet ants, have more facets than the smaller pharaoh ants.
The difference in size brings noticeable variation in their vision as smaller eyes can accommodate fewer optical units that cannot provide a good resolution.
However, an increased number of optical units improve eyesight and allow them to have better visual acuity and see the world beyond light and dark.
You have to count ommatidia in the eyes to know whether they are blind or have good eyesight. The facet’s diameter will tell you about their blindness that can be measured using nail polish.
You have to spread transparent nail polish on the eyes of dead insects and let it dry for a few minutes. Peel it off slowly without distorting the structure and count the compartments.
On average, these worker insects can have almost 77 to 78 ommatidia in a single eye that captures light rays and create a clear image.
The carpenter ants have bigger eyes that can collect light rays and are sensitive to light. However, they have only 24 to 26 ommatidia in their eyes, as each lens has almost 12 or 13 optical units.
They have two compound eyes with fewer ommatidia, but they can efficiently survive without eyesight as they can easily get back home in the dark.
Moreover, these primarily rely on their chemical senses or use antennae to find a food source or a nest. They follow pheromones or chemical signals left by fellows to build trails.
However, fire ants can differentiate shadows from light only as they have 11 facets in each eye. Therefore, they are not totally blind but do not have visual acuity.
What type of ants have good vision?
Some ants can see beyond light and dark in their environment as their eyes support vision which is better than species of army insects that are blind.
Moreover, the reproductive members or males and queens can see far better than workers as they can possess vestigial eyes.
The members of the genus Myrmecia have maximum ommatidia and can see the world better than the rest of these insects.
Bull ants are known to have more than 3000 optical units in their compound eyes.
However, the vision of pharaoh ants and argentine ants is also poor as their eyes only contain 6 to 9 and 25 to 38 ommatidia, which are not enough to capture a suitable image.
Furthermore, the queens are found to have more acute vision than the males, which is far better than the workers with a smaller percentage of facets in their compound eyes.
Can Ants Become Immune to Poison?