how strong are ants?

Ants are one of the most common and most interesting insects in the world. There are several characteristics that make ants different from other insects which you may see in your home, but one of the most fascinating characteristics of these creatures is the amazing strength they possess.

For their size, ants are some of the strongest animals in the entire world, capable of lifting several times their weight and performing feats that would be impossible if attempted by a human. Check out this information to help you understand why ants are strong and learn about some of the amazing things ants could do if they were man-sized. 

What Makes Ants so Strong?


Image via Flickr by tompagenet

Before learning about how strong ants actually are, it’s a good idea to learn about why these small creatures have such impressive physical abilities. Surprisingly, the reason ants are so strong is a direct result of how small they are, as their strength is related to their surface area.

The surface area of an ant is much smaller than its volume, which means the ant’s muscles don’t have to expend as much energy carrying its body around. This makes it much easier for an ant to lift objects that are larger and heavier than it is. However, this also means if an ant were much larger, it wouldn’t have the same proportional strength.

Generally speaking, the smaller an ant is, the more proportional strength it will possess, which is why the tiniest ants are able to carry large items for long distances when foraging. 

Strength of the Neck

In addition to their ability to lift and carry heavy objects, ants also have the ability to support a tremendous amount of static weight. By previous estimates, ants’ necks were believed to be able to support 1,000 times the weight of the ant. However, new research has revealed that ants are even stronger than was once believed.

After a variety of studies, it was found that a field ant’s neck could easily hold 5,000 times the ant’s weight. Think about that in human terms to get an idea of just how impressive this truly is. If your neck had the same ability and you weighed 150 pounds, it would mean that your neck would be able to hold 750,000 pounds!

Although ants have been seen in nature carrying larger objects such as baby birds, the full extent of their amazing strength wasn’t discovered until the ants were subjected to laboratory conditions. The main reason ants’ necks are so strong has to do with their structure. In the same study that revealed this impressive strength, it was found the necks of field ants had bumps which helped them shoulder heavy loads. Without these structures, ants might not be able to support these heavyweights. 

What Is the Strongest Ant?

Almost every ant species in the world possesses incredible strength, but when it comes to raw power, there is simply no beating the leafcutter ant.

One of the things that makes the leafcutter ant’s strength so astounding is its size. In general, these ants are about the size of your fingernail, making them one of the smaller species. However, as we know, the smaller the ant, the greater the strength. This relationship is perfectly clear when it comes to the leafcutter ant.

Leafcutter ants are able to lift up to 50 times their own body weight, which is beneficial since these ants survive by foraging for large leaves. However, what’s even more impressive is how they carry these heavy loads. Unlike humans, whose limbs do the lifting, leafcutter ants lift objects using only their jaws. If a person had the incredible strength of a leafcutter ant, they would be able to lift a full-size car using only their teeth.

Looking at this issue a little more closely might make it clear just how strong the leafcutter ant is. As mentioned, leafcutter ants can lift fifty times their body weight, and if the average human had this ability, it would mean they would be able to lift 9,000 pounds. If you wanted to lift this much weight at the gym, you would need 400 45-pound weights. 

Other Ant Superpowers

Based on their strength alone, ants definitely qualify as the superheroes of the animal kingdom. However, unbelievable strength isn’t only the amazing ability ants possess. In fact, ants have so many otherworldly skills they would be right at home in the pages of a comic book.

For example, because of their strength and stamina, ants are incredible diggers. They are capable of excavating large colonies that would put human construction crews to shame. Speaking of construction, ants are some of the world’s best builders. Certain species have the ability to erect towering structures that would dwarf human skyscrapers if they were scaled up.

Leafcutter ants, which are already some of the strongest in the world, are also extremely talented farmers, using the leaves they forage to grow a fungus that is used to feed the entire colony. Other ants are exceptionally fast. The trap jaw ant, for example, can close its mandibles at speeds above 100 miles per hour. There are also ant species whose antennae are quite sensitive and have the ability to detect sources of food hundreds of yards away.

Though the animal kingdom is filled with powerful creatures, none are as strong as the common ant. As we have seen, ants are some of the world’s strongest insects, possessing the ability to lift multiple times their own weight and achieving feats that would be impossible for even the most physically fit human. While strength may be the most impressive ability possessed by ants, these insects have a wide range of powers which humans could only dream. Although ants are certainly impressive creatures, they can be annoying when they’re afflicting your home. If you’re having trouble dealing with an ant infestation, you should be sure to seek help from an expert. A knowledgeable ant professional can help you learn about the ants in your home so that you can remove them as quickly and effectively as possible. 


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