Do Ants Have Eyes? How Many?

Have you ever wondered how an ant can navigate and find its way back to its nest without a trail? Do they have eyes? And if they do have them, how many can fit in that tiny head?

If we are to put a worker ant thru a microscope, we can see that they have two big, black eyes and 3 smaller eyes on top of its head.

The large black circle is called the compound eyes, and the smaller ones are called the ocelli. The number of eyes an ant has greatly depend on what type and species it belongs to.

close up of ant with black background

Generally speaking, an ant’s vision is much blurrier when compared to other vertebrae. These set of eyes and their uses depends on what type of ant they are and their species.

Two Types of Ant Eyes

An ant’s eyes are very different from human eyes; not only that they have a blurred vision, but some ants also have more than 2 sets of eyes on their head. Each set of eyes has different uses to help the ants to survive.

Compound Eyes

Compound eyes are a type of eye found in animals with more than one lens. If you look closely into these big black pair of eyes with a microscope, you can see that it has tiny LED-like units called Ommatidia.

These are the individual lenses that make up a compound eye. They are arranged in a hexagonal pattern that allows the ant to see in all directions at once.

The pair of compound eyes is also the reason why ants can find their way back to the nest even if they are accidentally lost from the trail.

With the help of a specialized cell that detects polarized light from the sun, these big black eyes will help the ant see the landmark it had made to make it back to the trail.

This is why ants can navigate so well even if there are no trails to follow– they have a 360-degree field of vision!

Simple Eyes or Ocelli

The ocelli are simple eyes that ants use to detect changes in light and can not see images. These eyes help the ant orient itself and determine whether it is day or night.

Some ants have three simple eyes, while others have just a single ocellus. The two examples of ants that have ocelli are the fire ant and the harvester ants.

How Many Eyes Do Ants Have?

Some species have a large number of eyes, with up to twelve eyes for seeing visible along with their bodies. Other types of ants, however, only have two prominent compound eyes that give them excellent vision both during the day and at night.

The number of eyes an ant has also varies depending on its species and size. For example, carpenter ants have 12 ommatidia in each compound eye, while fire ants only have 11.

The size of the ant’s brain is also a factor in how many eyes they have. Smaller ants have fewer ommatidia in each eye than larger ants.

How Many Eyes Do Queen Ants Have

close up of queen ant

Queen ants typically have more eyes than worker ants. They have a total of 6-9 ommatidia in each compound eye. Queen ants also have a couple of ocelli on top of their head which helps them see the dark and find their mates.

How Many Eyes Do Worker Ants Have?

Worker ants typically have fewer eyes than queen ants. They have a total of 3-6 ommatidia in each compound eye. This allows them to see in black and white and detect changes in light.

These pair of eyes are essential to worker ants as it helps them to know when to go out and gather food. This helps them orient themselves and find their way back to the nest.

How Many Eyes Does a Flying Ant Have?

A flying ant typically has two compound eyes that give it a wide field of view. This allows it to see objects in detail and helps it find its way around food sources. It also has a single ocellus that helps it sense changes in light intensity like day or night.

Different Species and Sizes of Ants

As mentioned earlier, the number of eyes an ant has varies depending on the species and size of the ant. Larger ants, such as the carpenter ants, have more eyes than smaller ants like thief ants.

Some desert-dwelling ants even have a set of eyes that can see ultraviolet light, allowing them to find food and water in the scorching desert sun.

How Do Ants Use Their Eyes?

The main use of an ant’s eyes is to help it find its way around food sources and to be able to find its way back to its nest.

The compound eyes give the ant a wide field of view and allow them to see objects in detail. This enables them to get move around obstacles like water puddles or go the other way if something is blocking their way.

Ocelli, on the other hand, are used to sense changes in light intensity like day or night. This helps the ant know when it is time to go into its nest or come out to forage for food. However

Different Species of Ants Have Different Eyes

There are over 12,000 different species of ants and they all have different eyes. Some species of ants have compound eyes that can see in color while others have eyes that can only see in black and white.

Some species of ants, like the carpenter ant, have eyes that can see ultraviolet light. This allows them to see colors that we cannot see and helps them find food sources that are hidden from our view.

Final Thoughts

Ants are fascinating creatures with a complex social order and some truly incredible adaptations, like their eyes.

Contrary to popular belief, ants have eyes that commonly consist of 2 compound eyes and 3 ocelli. However, the number of eyes largely depends on the size and species of the ant in question. In general, the smaller the ant, the fewer and blurrier the vision is.