Ants might be as small as 2mm but they are still very strong. Comparable to the size of their body ants turn out to be some of the strongest insects in the world.
A small ant can lift weight equivalent to 100 times their body weight which makes them very strong. Ants are also athletic. They can swim and dig depending on their species.
Ants are strong enough to lift around 50 times their body weight (up to 100 times for Asian Weaver ants). Nuts and seeds are easily carried by these insects. Ants can also dig in almost any type of organic material including wood.
The impressive strength of ants is often the subject of various studies. Comparing numbers, the Asian Weaver Ant is the strongest of its kind. This species can carry up to 100 times its body weight.
However, the average ant species can carry up to 50 times its body weight. Some ants can also swim while others can dig into the wood.
How strong are ants?
The strength of ants can be quantified by lifting and carrying up to 50 times their body weight over long distances.
An ant weighs 1-5 milligrams. This means an ant can carry up to 0.25 grams on average. Up to 0.50 grams can be carried by the Asian Weaver ant, the world’s strongest ant species.
Ants can carry items larger than themselves
Foraging ants are often seen carrying all types of organic source items such as food to bring to the nest or leaves to build their nest.
Ants carry this weight through certain pathways which are based on pheromones and odors left by other ants in the colony. This is important as balancing items can be difficult for ants apart from dealing with their weight.
Most items ants carry are larger than themselves. This means these small insects are some of the most capable when it comes to strength. A hard exoskeleton is responsible for this strength.
Interesting ant fact: ants could carry more weight but they struggle to balance items in their small bodies. Getting the right balance is more important for them than the weight of the seed or fruit.
Ants can carry items 50-100 heavier than themselves
The actual weight of seeds or food ants carry can be a few times heavier than the weight of the ant itself. This is not a problem for ants as they have a strong backside and a strong neck that can also take on heavy loads.
Some ants can swim
Ants can’t technically swim. They cannot move their legs in traditional swimming movements. However, ants can float and move with water.
Ants adopt the swimming position of a dog when it comes to staying afloat. A few swimming ants are known for having excellent fitness and the capacity to travel with water for miles without dying.
Ants can dig
Almost all ants that nest in the ground can dig. This means they have sufficient strength to move soil out of the way. Their strength is seen in what they do with the excavated soil which is always seen in the form of mounds ants build upon.
Why Are ants strong?
Scientists aren’t sure why ants are so strong. They have a few theories which explain the innate strength of the small ants which can explain why ants carry large and heavy objects.
A strong waterproof exoskeleton
Ants don’t have a skeleton on the inside of the body like humans. They have an outer exoskeleton that is often waterproof and which allows their inner parts to gather maximum strength for carrying.
The neck of ants is even more robust than the exoskeleton on the abdomen or the thorax. It can take a weight even a few thousand times heavier than the ant itself.
Are all ants strong?
Not all ants are strong and not all ants of a certain species are as strong. Many ants species are divided into social casts. A queen or multiple queens lead the colony or the nest. Males have a role in reproducing the species while worker ants do the actual lifting.
Worker ants are a few times stronger than many queen ants. The worker cast of ants carries all food, repairs the nest, and digs for new nests. Queen ants can help as well but they often lack the everyday strength worker ants have.
What can ants lift?
While ants working together can live with heavier objects, individual ants can leave objects they need every day. If they cannot lift and balance these objects to be carried, ants can proceed to split the item they plan to carry to handle it easier. Here’s what they can carry.
Ants are sometimes seen carrying half or quarter-size leaves they split by chewing. This makes it easier for them to balance leaves on their backs so that they can safely travel back to the nest.
Ants are so good at carrying these items they go back for more multiple times per day without resting. Ants rest at night. Some ants don’t even rest a full night as they spend a few hours repairing the nest.
Is balancing more difficult than lifting for ants?
Balancing items is considerably more difficult than lifting or carrying them for ants. An object needs to be structurally stiff for ants to carry it.
This is why ants cannot carry soft items that bend easily. Pieces of grass that bend easily aren’t easily carried by ants. They either split it into smaller pieces that can be balanced or move to another object to carry.
Is an ant stronger than a human?
Ants are a few times stronger than a human. They can lift at least 50 times their body weight. Record-breaking strong humans lift 2.200 pounds However, the average person can lift 4-6 times less with maximum strength. If the strongest humans could lift to 50 times their body weight they would possibly lift more than 100.000 pounds.