Ant Anatomy Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Do you know what an ant looks like up close? Because they are so small, you might have trouble really seeing what they look like. In this lesson, we're going to learn about the different body parts of an ant and what these parts do.

All About Ants

You've probably seen ants busy in the grass when you've been sitting outside. They are so tiny that it's hard to see what they look like up close. But many scientists have studied ants under microscopes to get a better idea of their anatomy--the structure of their bodies.

You may not realize it because they're so tiny, but most ants you see in your backyard are female worker ants. These ants don't reproduce (make babies). Instead, they find and bring back food, work on making the ant hill, and keep everything running smoothly. The only ants that reproduce are the female queens, and the queens are usually bigger than worker ants. Male ants are only around long enough to help reproduce, and then they die.

In this lesson, we are going to look at the general body structure of the worker ants, because these are the ants you will most often encounter.

Worker Ant Anatomy

The body of an ant can be divided into three parts from front to back: head, mesosoma, and gaster. Let's take a look at each.

Head

The first section of an ant is the head.
Structure of an ant head

The head of an ant has a few noticeable features. An ant's antennae help them touch, taste, smell, and move things around them. Usually an ant has one pair of antennae (one antenna on each side of the head).

Ants also have compound eyes made up of hundreds of lenses that create a single image in the brain. The size of an ant's eyes can tell you how much time they spend in the light or in the dark.

Finally, the mandibles work like human hands. Ants use their mandibles to grab on to objects, to eat, and to fight. The mouth is found between the two mandibles.

Mesosoma

The middle section of an ant is the mesosoma.
ant mesosoma

The middle section of the ant is called the mesosoma. Sometimes the mesosoma is also called the thorax. This area is responsible for controlling the ant's three pairs of legs. These legs are used for moving around, and each leg has a small hook at the end that allows the ant to climb over objects.

Gaster

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