Amazing Ants: Why Are Ants so Strong?

Leaf-cutter ant Acromyrmex octospinosus carrying eaten apple

Ants are one of the most resilient animals on the planet. For their size and weight, they’ve often been cited as one of the strongest living creatures. Ants are so powerful they were the inspiration for Stan Lee’s iconic comic hero Ant-Man.

But how are ants able to lift objects 50+ times their own weight? Let’s find out!

Ants Have a Shape That Supports Power

The anatomy of an ant is built for heavy lifting. For starters, ants have very compact bodies. They also have gradual transitions between joints to minimize weakness. They’re so tightly put together, an ant’s neck can support up to 5,000 times its own weight. As a result, researchers are now studying the super strong joints of ants to hopefully create robots that can handle equally heavy loads.

Ants Have Extremely Strong Muscles

Ants need tons of strength because they’re hard workers and spend much of the day doing heavy lifting. Luckily, their muscles are built for backbreaking labor. Strength is relative to the cross sectional area of your muscles and bones. In other words, the abundance of muscles that cover a lot of an ant’s tiny body surface make it insanely strong for its size.

Size Plays a Big Role in Ant Strength

In the animal kingdom, there’s a connection between size and strength. Generally speaking, as weight and height go up, strength goes down. So the smaller an animal is the more strength it has in comparison to its size. That’s because there’s less mass involved. Ants can carry up to 50 times their own weight because ants only weigh about 1-5 mg. There’s also less gravity pulling the load down since ants scurry across the ground.

If shrunk down to ant size, a human would most likely be as strong or stronger. Maybe that’s why Ant-Man is so impressive. But morphological differences do come into play, so ants might still have the edge.

Super Strength in Numbers

Ants are the ultimate team workers. When ants get together and pool their muscle power they can do remarkable things, which makes them seem more powerful than they are individually. In a single year, an ant colony can move roughly 50 tons of soil. They’ve also been known to attack and take down much larger insects when they work as a single unit.

This also means they can be extremely destructive in large groups. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that fire ants alone cause $5 billion a year in structural damage, medical costs and pest control. Carpenter ants can cause even more costly damage since they chew through wood.

Are ants moving things around your yard or infesting your home? Vulcan Termite and Pest Control Inc. can help! Our yard pest services can specifically target an ant problem. Call us today to schedule an inspection.

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