The answer to the question of how many legs an ant has is very simple: any ant has 6 legs. And regardless of the type, size, color and habitat - this is the main difference between any ant from its distant relatives - ticks, spiders and crustaceans. In general, all six legs of ants in the adult stage are clearly visible and distinguishable, and therefore it is relatively easy to count them.
Each pair of ant legs is located on a separate part of the chest. These segments have different sizes and proportions in different species of ants and even in individual castes of the same species, but in general the arrangement of the legs is common to all ants.
The front legs of ants are located on the prothorax. On these paws, ants have a special device, similar to a small brush, with which the insect can clean the antennae and other legs.
The ant’s hind legs have spurs that perform various functions. Most often they are used by ants soldiers to participate in battles with other ants.
Due to the special structure of their feet, ants get a lot of useful abilities at the expense of them.
How ants stick on sheer surfaces
Surfaces of almost any degree of smoothness and steepness are not an obstacle for ants. The smaller the ant, the smoother the surface it can run. For example, the home of the Pharaohs ant, quietly moving on the glass, which can not do, for example, a black cockroach.
In such acrobatic tricks, ants help tiny nicks on their paws, with which they can quite successfully cling to the protrusions that can only be seen through a microscope. Of course, the trunks of trees and the surface of stones in nature are like comfortable stairs for them.
Some ants from the family of phaetons can run at a speed of about 4 km / h, being one of the fastest-moving insects in general (today the record of running is registered for racehorse and Madagascar cockroaches). Paws - the only salvation of these ants that live in one of the most extreme biotopes of the world in general - in the sandy and clay deserts of Africa, Asia and America. These ants can withstand air temperatures of up to 50 ° C, but if in such conditions the ant lingers in the sun and does not reach the anthill in time, it will simply fry.
In addition, due to their feet, some ants can swim. This, for example, distinguishes Australian bulldog ants, unique insects in many of their qualities. They are able to easily cross water obstacles 15 cm wide (for example, small puddles).
Ants bulldogs also know how to make big jumps - up to 50 cm in length. Only they do it not with the help of paws, but pushing off the ground with their jaws.
6 paws as a hallmark of ants
It is in the number of paws that ants differ from most other arthropods. For example, some biologically savvy tourists may confuse ants with very small ticks or spiders. All arachnids (to which mites also belong) have eight paws, and only considering how many paws an “ant” has, one can definitely say whether it is really an ant.
In addition to spiders and mites, there are no longer any arthropods in the fauna of our country with which ants can be confused. But some beetles very skillfully imitate the body shape of ants in order to penetrate into their anthills and live there. Such beetles are rarely seen, and without special knowledge to distinguish them from ants can be very problematic.
But to distinguish the ant uterus from the working individual is quite simple: the uterus is much larger and more massive than the working ants, while they also have 6 legs.
Does ants use their paws only for running
With their feet, ants can perform a large number of operations. It is thanks to the strength of the paws and the ability to place them wider than the body itself, the ant can quite lift above itself and carry a load of 50 times its own weight.
From a purely physiological point of view, there is nothing extraordinary in such super abilities of ants. With a decrease in the size of the body of any living creature, the cross section of the muscles of his body decreases disproportionately. That is why, compared to its body, this tiny insect lifts the weight, which for a human would turn into 3 tons. The ratio of the muscle mass to the body mass of the ant itself is much greater than this ratio in humans.
Legs are used by desert ants to measure distance. This is a kind of navigation tool for them: the ant remembers how many steps it took after each turn, and on the way back it makes an amendment exactly to this angle and the same number of steps. If the length of the legs change (what did the experimenters, studying this phenomenon), the ant will either miss the target, or, conversely, run across it.
And weaver ants, widely known for their skill in making nests from leaves, use legs to fold leaves. Several ants (sometimes several dozen) cling to the edge of one leaf with their jaws, and the edge of the other - with their legs, after which they press the edges against one another, while the other ants hold the leaves together with a secret secreted by the larvae. So it turns out to be a very convenient nest for a whole colony, the living “skeleton” of which for the first few hours are working individuals.
Glands on the legs as a tool for orientation
Ants use their feet to transmit odor signals. Scientists have discovered glands on the paws of ants that emit strongly smelling pheromones. Ants leave these substances as labels on different objects in the course of their movement, making the path more visible to other individuals.
The more ants run along such a path, the more tags remain on it, and the more it is attractive to other individuals. Accordingly, the most visited trails look to ants as comfortable highways, while the routes just marked are comparable for them to a barely walked path in the forest.
It is because of errors in the arrangement of such marks that famous ant circles occur: if an ant accidentally runs in a circle and closes its own path with a more fresh trace, obeying instinct, it then continues to run in a circle. Several of his fellows can connect to him, and when the number of ants passes several hundred, such a circle can be a real disaster for the family - the ants in it can run to complete exhaustion. However, such a circle can occur only in the absence of visible external landmarks, when ants are forced to use only their aromatic traces for navigation.
Therefore, if the next time you see an ant, look at its paws. These bodies, thin and seemingly inconspicuous, help little laborers to do real miracles!
The difference between an ant from a spider and a tick
Spiders and mites belong to the arachnid class, and ants belong to the insect class. To distinguish them, it is enough to count the paws: all of the arachnids have 8, that is, 4 pairs. Of course, the shape of the body in these animals varies, but if they are small, it is not always possible to immediately consider this.
Some pairs of legs in spiders differ in size and structure from other walking limbs. This is explained by the way of life: when hunting, the limbs of the first and second pairs are often used by spiders to capture prey and palpation of the surface, while the hind limbs are holding onto the support (web, ground). But, despite external differences, the total number of legs is always constant for any kind of spider.
In some ticks, the legs of the first pair are longer than others, and the limbs of the second pair are, on the contrary, shorter than all the others. And since the front limbs are close to the head, they can be taken for the antennae. With these paws, a blood sucking tick clings to the body of a potential victim.
If there are doubts about the identification of an individual, then it is necessary to pay attention to the structure of the body - the ant and the spider have clearly visible segments, and the tick is almost drop-shaped, its head is small, and the body is wide, oblate, drained. Having become drunk with blood, the tick is increased several times and becomes barrel-shaped.
Much more difficult is the situation with the larvae of some species of ticks, since they, unlike adults (adult ticks), can have only 6, not 8 paws. At the same time, they also feed on the blood of animals and humans, and, just like adult ticks, are able to infect many dangerous diseases through a bite. But the structure of the body in the larvae and adult ticks is very similar, and this is what you need to pay attention to.
Another distinctive feature of ticks is slowness. Thanks to their comfortable feet, ants are able to run very fast, spiders are also good runners, but ticks move slowly, crawling only a few centimeters per minute.
Pedipalps and antennae
In addition to walking limbs, spiders have clearly distinguishable pedipalps, they are located in front of the front pair of legs. Sometimes they look almost like another pair of paws, and are even able to participate in movement, but are mostly used as part of the mouth apparatus, helping to capture and put food in the mouth.
But even if you mistakenly count the pedipalps in an extra pair of legs, then by the total number of legs the arachnid still cannot be confused with an insect. But looking at an ant, one can carelessly attribute it to the limbs of the antennae that are on its head, and take the insect as a tick or spider.
The antennae of ants have a special structure - they are articulated, outwardly, as if bent in the middle, the tips pointing downwards. The antennae are located next to the eyes, much thinner than the legs and very mobile. They perform the function of tactile, tactile organs, serve for orientation in space, the perception of odors and the exchange of information with other ants.
Faced in everyday life or in nature with any insect and arachnid, care should be taken. Especially if the identification of the species is difficult. If any of these creatures are found on the body or clothes, it should be gently brushed or blown away, without pressing with the hands or clapping on the skin.
Systematics and number of legs
If we proceed from the universal understanding of this term, then the legs are the limbs that perform primarily the functions of support and movement. However, this person has a clear division into arms and legs, and, for example, in chimpanzees this division is somewhat arbitrary.
Ants are arthropods. This means that all the limbs are assembled from segments. Other outgrowths on the body of the animal are collected from the same components. A striking example is the antennae, which differ from the legs only in a set of specific segments and in that the animal does not rely on them.
Arthropods are a large type that includes a wide variety of animals with different numbers of legs. But it is precisely this trait that is the very indicator by which an animal belongs to one or another taxon.
The ant belongs to the class of insects. In this taxon are only those animals that have 6 legs.
So the answer to the question is simple - ants have 6 paws.
We are talking about those limbs, on which the insect is based while walking.
Who can be confused with an ant?
The fact is that mimicry is very developed in the world of small animals. This art of disguise can manifest itself as follows:
- Someone needs to stand out against the general background and warn everyone that they are dangerous. This is exactly what wasps, bees, bumblebees and other poisonous insects do.
- Someone needs to merge with the environment. Almost all butterflies do this - some look like a bright flower, others look like a tree bark.
- Someone, not possessing any advantages, decided to fake something dangerous. Some butterflies and caterpillars have false eyes and even a head. There are flies that are painted under the wasp. Among these rogues there are arthropods, posing as ants. Why do they need it? Firstly, they are afraid to contact ants, because these insects are piling on the offender with the whole team. Secondly, if you live in an anthill under the guise of an ant, then you will be guaranteed protection and food.
Some bugs, flies and even arachnids resort to such mimicry. And the ants themselves are not very strong in the art of disguise. Their bodies are always painted in the color of the earth.
To know the number of paws in any insect is necessary in order to identify whether it is dangerous or not. Ants are not dangerous for humans, unless of course you are going to sleep on an anthill. They deliver unpleasant efforts to a person only in the home. It is often not possible to agree.
In the forest, ticks can be a real danger. It is very simple to distinguish them from ants and other insects - in ticks, like in all arachnids, 8 legs, and in ants 6.
It is almost impossible to confuse ant with spiders, but just in case, count the number of paws.
Why ant legs?
The question is not so strange, if we consider that in the world of invertebrates everything is not the same as that of higher organisms. The legs of ants perform the following functions:
- Walking and running. Each pair of ant legs is located on a separate breast segment. The legs of different species of ants do not have radical differences. Specialization of various species and individuals affects the structure of the head, jaws, chest and abdomen.
- Carry cargo. Everyone knows that ants are able to carry objects that exceed their own weight tenfold. This is due to the fact that with a decrease in the size of the body of animals, the cross section of their muscles does not decrease so much. It turns out that the size of the muscles relative to the body weight of an ant is much larger than that of the most trained person. The breast segments have different sizes and proportions in different species of ants and even in individual castes. This is what affects the performance of other functions besides movement. In the case of foragers carrying large loads, the front segments are very well developed, since jaws and front legs are involved in the transportation of goods.
- Mustache care. On the front legs of ants there are special devices that look like brushes. This is a kind of comb, which comb mustache and other legs.
- Battles On the hind legs of these insects there are spurs-like outgrowths. They can cling to irregularities, but most often they are used by fighting ants to participate in hostilities.
- Vertical movement. Everyone knows that ants quickly run along tree trunks, walls, and even along the ceiling. This ability is ensured by tiny notches on the tips of the paws, with which insects cling well to the microscopic projections of the vertical surfaces.
- Swimming First, once the water has entered, the ants can stay on the film for a long time without falling into the water. This is due to the numerous outgrowths that increase the surface of the body relative to its mass. Secondly, some species of ants really swim well, and in this they are helped by all the same outgrowths on the legs, thanks to which the legs turn into good oars.
- Distance measurements. An ant in his travels is able to memorize the number of steps after each turn and reference point. Returning back, he can make a correction for the angle and the number of steps. In experiments on ants, the length of the paws was changed. This confused the insect, with the result that the ant often ran past the target.
- Transmission of odor signals. It is on the legs that the glands are located, with the help of which ants mark their paths in order not to go astray.
This is how 6 paws of these very nimble and organized insects of the planet work. Such a variety of functions of limbs helps to achieve great results in the dispersal of ants over all continents, except, of course, Antarctica.