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Do Ants have Eyes?

Ants have a pair of compound eyes that contain multiple lenses. Their vision is not very strong. They can only see blurry images of what lies right in front of them. Their far-sightedness is not great.

Image: You can see the eyes on this ant.

They can detect movements and obstacles through their eyesight however they rely heavily on their ability to obtain information through other senses and via communication rather than by solely using their eyes.

Can Ants See the World?

Ants can definitely see the world but their vision is way different than ours. This means that they don’t see the world in the same way we do.

Most ants contain a pair of compound eyes and their eyesight is extremely poor, especially in comparison with mammals.

Their eyesight is directly related to their size which means smaller ants will have worse eyesight than larger ants. This is a natural process that happens to adjust with the limitations of a smaller-sized body.

How do Ants See?

Ants contain compound eyes which are built up with several tiny units known as the ommatidia. Each of these units focuses on a particular point of an image and the eye as a whole see that one picture.

The greater the number of ommatidia present the greater will be the power of their eyesight. The number of ommatidia present in an insect or a specific ant species can be determined by putting a transparent nail polish sheet over the eyes of a dead ant.

Then the dried nail polish layer can be further flattened and magnified which further will allow researchers to count the number of ommatidia they possessed. This further allows them to discover the exact range of their vision.

ants communicating
Image: Ants will often rub antennae to communicate

Do Ants have Good Eyesight?

Even the larger ants with better eyesight see the world in a blurry vision. So no, ants do not have good eyesight. Certain species of ants like the army ants are completely blind.

In general, larger ants that have slightly better vision can detect obstructions a little earlier than smaller ones.

The tiny ants have poor eyesight as a result of which they can only detect certain obstructions only when they are close by to that object. They cannot detect it from a distance.

However, the important thing is no matter how bad their vision maybe they are still able to detect obstructions in their path, in close-by ranges, and change their path. They do not collide with the obstructions.

Do Ants See Humans?

Ants are creatures with poor vision. They heavily depend upon chemical signaling for communication among themselves. The presence of those complicated signaling processes allows them to go through their daily bit of tedious tasks.

Their eyesight is just a subsidiary thing that assists them further in their daily maneuvers however they do not depend upon it entirely. Some tiny ants have such blurry vision that they are considered to be very close to being blind.

Along with that, the ant brain is evolutionally not that evolved which further prevents them from categorizing and perceiving things they see through their blurry vision.

When close by they are of course aware of humans however they will observe parts of the human body rather than seeing it as a whole. We are more like a giant obstacle, who in some cases, acts as a threat to them.

army ant
Image: An ant’s eye

Can Ants See Color?

Recent studies are showing that just like humans some varieties of ants can perceive colors. The American Bull ants are found to have three types of photoreceptors that allow them to track blue and green colors along with the UV rays.

This is quite fascinating because even some higher animals do not contain trichromatic color vision.

However, it must be kept in mind that the American bull ants are known not to use strong chemical signaling to communicate with others. So their vision plays an important role in carrying out their daily tasks. This may not be the same for all other types of ants.

Ant Vision vs Human Vision

Ant VisionHuman Vision
Ants have compound eyes.Humans contain simple eyes which are often termed camera-like eyes.
The objective of their eyesight is more related to detecting shapes and outlines rather than understanding minute details.Human eyes are able to detect both the shape and detailing of an image.
Can detect UV rays in some species.Cannot detect UV rays.
Can detect only one or two colors of light including the blue and green light.Can detect a wide range of colors.
They can look at multiple directions at the same time. This is because they have multiple smaller lens.At a time can focus on only one direction. The reason behind this is, human eyes have a single big lens.
Vision quality is not at all great. Ants have a blurry vision which qualifies as poor eyesight.The visual quality is of top-notch quality, especially when compared with the ant eyes.
The eyesight process is quite simple when compared with the complexity of the human eyes.The network is highly complicated and well developed in comparison with the ant eyes.
Ant eyes are more suited to let them know about predator activity or about dangers in their path. Coupled with their highly developed communication system this helps in the better survival of their colony.The human eyes are more suited to look for prey as for thousands of years hunting was the only way by which we could fulfil our appetite needs.

Are Ants Attracted to White and Red Lights?

There is currently no solid evidence that suggests that ants are attracted to any light source. Depending upon the species they are more sensitive to blue and green lights not much to other light sources.

They don’t have the presence of multiple varieties of photoreceptors in their eyes, to begin with. Hence they can only detect a limited variety of light colors.


Ants like most insects contain a pair of compound eyes however their eyesight is not that great. But, they have evolved in a manner that allows them to adjust to this shortcoming in other ways.

Their thorough process of communication among themselves and the strong sense of understanding stuff through touch makes up for the difficulties they face because of poorer vision. Certain varieties of ants are known to be sensitive towards selective colors of light however this is not a very common phenomenon and often times light doesn’t end up affecting them at all.

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