How Much Does an Ant Weigh? Types of Ants and 21 Weird Facts About Ants

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | January 4, 2024

Woman looking at an ant on a scale wonders how much does an ant weigh, how strong are ants, how many species of ants are there, how much can an ant lift, and other fascinating facts about ants.

One day you might find yourself wondering how much does an ant weigh? How strong are ants, really?

We all know ants are one of the most widespread and identifiable species on earth. But, there are some interesting facts that you may not know about this incredibly small, yet strong insect.

For example, how many ants are even in the world? And, how much can they really lift?

This guide explains the answer to those questions and how much does an ant weigh, as well as many other fascinating facts about this tiny (not insignificant) member of the world’s ecological system.

How Much Does an Ant Weigh? Facts About Ants

Ants are remarkably widespread and intriguing creatures, boasting an array of behaviors and complex social systems across numerous species found globally.

Here are 21 interesting facts about ants:

1. The Word Ant

Did you know, the English word ‘ant’ comes from an old West Germanic word meaning, “the biter.” The Latin word used to describe the ant family Formicidae comes from ‘formica,’ meaning ant.

In Greek the famous myrmidons who were the companions of Achilles at Troy took their name from the Greek word myrmex, meaning ant.

2. Average Weight of an Ant (How Much Does an Ant Weigh?)

Often, the attribute we think about when considering ants is their size. Obviously, ant size and weight differs by species but the average weight of an ant is usually between 1-5 milligrams.

Graphic on "how much does an ant weigh in pounds?" showing a comparison between the weight of a single ant, which is 0.00000613 pounds, and the number of ants (150,000) needed to equal one pound, with a scale balancing one pound weight and a pile of ants.

Their size can be anywhere from less than 1 to 52 millimeters.

3. How Much Does an Ant Weigh in Pounds?

If you’re wondering how much does an ant weigh in pounds, since one pound is roughly 450,000 milligrams, an ant weighs around 0.0000066139 pounds. You would need over 150,000 ants to reach one pound!1

4. How Much Can an Ant Lift? How Strong Are Ants?

After their small size, the net attribute people attribute to ants is their prodigious strength. You might be wondering how much can an ant lift? Ants can lift around 10 to 50x their bodyweight.

The extremely small size and extremely great relative strength are related. The size allows for an extremely high relative strength.1

5. How Many Species of Ants Are There?

If you’re wondering how many species of ants are there, ants are extremely diverse, including over 15,700 individual species that have been discovered and named, while there are potentially many more still unclassified. This makes it one of the most diverse animal groups on the planet!

6. How Many Ants Are There in the World? (How Much Does an Ant Weigh?)

The question of how many ants are in the world is of course subject to crude estimates. But scientists writing in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences in 2022 estimated the number of ants on earth to be over 20 quadrillion.

That’s one million billion! Or a 1 followed by 15 zeros. Estimates have put the total weight of ants on earth anywhere from %20 to %100 the total weight of humans.

That’s astonishing considering an ant’s miniscule weight.1

7. How Did Ants Evolve?

You might have noticed that wasps and ants look extremely similar, apart from the wings. They actually evolved from common wasp ancestors long ago during the Cretaceous period.

They share the geniculate antennae and body structure that looks like a series of tiny beads.

8. Ant Colonies

Ant colonies can range from a couple of dozen ants to millions. Big colonies have a few types of ants.

Some of them are sterile female workers, who don’t have wings, as well as the soldier ants. Different species of ant will have other specialized groups.

A variety of ants climbing a stick, demonstrating the diversity that is a highlight in the facts about ants.

(Image: MorganBurke8)

Most also have fertile males called drones, and at least one fertile female known as a queen. Biologists sometimes refer to ant colonies as ‘superorganisms’ because they effectively operate as one entity.

9. Ant Habitats

Ants are found on every continent except Antarctica. Some islands such as Greenland, Iceland, and members of Polynesia and the Hawaiian islands are not known to have any species that are considered native.

Scientists have speculated that one of the reasons ants are so widespread is the advantages afforded them by their slight biomass.2,4

10. Ant Anatomy

Ants are arthropods meaning that they have an exoskeleton that covers them to protect the body and provide muscle attachments. Humans and other vertebrates, by contrast, have our skeletons on the inside.

Graphic showing the ant anatomy with labeled parts including the head, mesosoma (thorax), and metasoma (abdomen).

Like other insects, ants do not have lungs. They process gasses through small spiracles or valves.

Ants also don’t have closed blood vessels. They have a dorsa aorta which functions like their heart and conducts the circulation of their body fluids.

The nervous system is very simple. A ventral nerve goes along the body with ganglia and branching which reach the ends of the appendages.

Ant Head

The ant’s head contains several of its sensory organs. The eyes, like those of most other insects, are a compound of many different lenses.

They can detect movement very well, and have a few smaller eyes on the tops of their heads which sense light and polarization. Usually, smaller ants have what we would call worse eyesight, and some species are completely blind.

The antennae can detect movement and chemicals. They are also used to send and receive signals by touching.

The ant’s jaws or mandibles are used for a variety of purposes such as carrying food,5 construction, and defense.3


The mesosoma is also known as the “thorax” and is the attachment point for the ant’s legs and wings. The legs have a hooked claw on the end which allows them great movement abilities including climbing.

Reproductive ants, both male and female, are the only ones who have wings, although the queens lose them after nuptial flight. The stub marks left after the wings are shed are one of the easiest ways to distinguish a queen ant, although in a few species wingless males are found too.


The metasoma is also known as the abdomen and houses most of the ant’s most important internal organs, including those for reproduction, respiration, and excretion. In many species of ants, the reproductive structures of non-reproductive worker ants morph into stingers that are used for hunting and defense.6

11. Different Jobs of Ants

Some ant species have their workers divided into different physical castes. These castes are classes based on size, minor, median and major.2

12. Soldier Ants

Sometimes these larger worker ants are called soldier ants because of their noticeably larger mandibles. However they usually do not have different jobs from worker ants of the smaller castes.

13. Ant Life Cycle

Ants are born from eggs. Fertilized eggs become females, unfertilized eggs become males.

They go from larva to pupa to adult and form via metamorphosis. The larva is mostly immobile and is cared for and fed by the colony workers.

The pupa has movement in the appendages, and since larvae and pupae need specific temperatures, they are often moved around to different colony chambers. A fully formed worker spends its early days caring for the queen, larvae, and pupae.

Then the ant moves on to internal nest work, and eventually to work outside the nest such as hunting and defense.1

14. How Long Do Ants Live?

Queens can survive for up to 30 years and female workers for around 3 years. This is considered an extremely long time for insects of this size.

However, male workers usually survive only for a few weeks.

15. Do Ants Hibernate?

Ants hibernate in cool, but not tropical regions. The exact type of hibernation varies between regions and species.

In some, the larvae hibernate along with the adults, in others, only the adults hibernate.

16. Ant Reproduction

Most ant species produce one new generation each year.7 They are known to have a diverse amount of reproductive strategies.

In many species, the females can reproduce asexually with thelytokous parthenogenesis. Most commonly reproduction is the product of mating.

This season varies by species. During it, winged males and females will leave the colony in nuptial flight.

A close-up of an ant colony with workers tending to the ant larvae.

(Image: Myriams-Fotos9)

The males usually leave first and leave a mating pheromone for the females to follow. Once the two have mated, the females then seek a new colony site and begin to lay the eggs.1

17. How Do Ants Communicate?

Ants have three basic means of communication: sound, touch, and chemical signals called pheromones. These pheromones are often left as trails or excreted into the air.

One common use is that an ant forager who finds food will leave a trail for other ants to follow. The following ants reinforce the trail until the food has been used up.

Also, crushed ants can give off alarm pheromones that signal the other ants into an attack mode and attract more.

18. How Do Ants Fight?

Ants have many different ways to fight. The most common are biting, stinging, and spraying chemicals.

Maybe the most famous ant sting is from the bullet and of South America. Although it is considered to have an extremely painful sting, the sting is rarely fatal.

The sting of a jack jumper however can be fatal, and this has led to the development of an antivenom.

One interesting biting ant is the trap-jaw ant. The mandibles of these ants close faster than those of any other animal in the world.

They can use their mandibles to throw around themselves and other ants. Another interesting species has glands in the mandible that, in a losing battle, can be ruptured to cover nearby insects in a poisonous secretion.

The ant that does this dies.1

19. Do All Ants Build Nests?

Some species of ant build nests, while others do not build nests at all and live a nomadic lifestyle. Nests can be under or above ground.

Oftentimes they will be ground under rocks or logs, or various natural hollow structures. The nests are built out of soil and plants.

Weaver ants are famous for building beautiful nests of woven leaves. They arrange them with worker ant bridges and then have their larvae make silk along the leaf edges to attach them.

20. Ants and Humans

Without a doubt, ants are beneficial to humans through their work in the environment. They actually reduce the populations of other pests, and in gardens aerate soil.

The Chinese have used weaver ants for millenia to help cultivate citrus trees. In other cultures, ants are even used as sutures.

A close-up of a black ant perched on a yellow surface.

(Image: BubbleJuice10)

Army ant mandibles are held up to a wound, and the ant bites the two sides together. Then the body is cut off and the mandibles hold the wound together.

We need other ants for their venoms, which are used in medicine. In South Africa, people have used ants to harvest various seeds.3

21. Are Ants Endangered?

Most ant species are not endangered, but some are critically endangered. These are mostly species of ants that developed on certain islands and are now at risk of displacement from other non-native species of ants.

One example is the Sri Lankan relict ant. There is also the venatrix native to the island of Madagascar.

In conclusion, ants are one of the most fascinating species on earth. Their tiny size and proportionally enormous strength has been an object of human wonderment across the globe.

They are beneficial for our yards, gardens, and environments at large and should be appreciated. When ants are unwanted, such as inside a home, they can be deterred by simply keeping food wrapped up and not exposed, and if a problem needs to be dealt with simply use household vinegar to get rid of them.

Understanding questions aout nature, such as how much does an ant weigh, is the beginning of building an appreciation for the world around you and the delicate balance we all play in keeping it healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Much Does an Ant Weigh?

Are Ants Good for My Garden?

Ants are almost certainly good for your garden. Unless they are eating the exact plants you want to cultivate, they have the beneficial function of reducing harmful pests and aerating soil, which is something difficult for humans to do manually at such a small scale.

Should I Be Worried if I See Ants?

Unless you live in a part of the world where ants are a safety threat, ants are at best a benefit to your garden and yard and at worst a nuisance inside the home. In short, although many people are put off by the sight of ants, most species pose absolutely no danger to humans at all.

How Do I Get Rid of Ants?

If you are wondering how to get rid of ants, there is no need for any toxic chemicals or pesticides, although companies will try to trick you into buying them, a simple solution of white vinegar can effectively kill ants and remove their pheromone trails. Just make sure that whatever attracts them, like food, gets cleaned up so they don’t come back!


1Wikipedia. (2023, September 20). Ant. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 7, 2023, from <>

2Augustyn, Adam. (2023). Ant. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved November 7, 2023, from <>

3Belknap Press. (January 28). Welcome to AntWiki. Antwiki. Retrieved November 7, 2023, from <>

4Schultheiss, P., Nooten, S. S., Wang, R., Wong, M. K. L., Brassard, F., & Guénard, B. (2022, September 19). The abundance, biomass, and distribution of ants on Earth. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved November 22, 2023, from <>

5Patek, S. N., Baio, J. E., Fisher, B. L., & Suarez, A. V. (2006, August 21). Multifunctionality and mechanical origins: Ballistic jaw propulsion in trap-jaw ants. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved November 22, 2023, from <>

6Regents of the University of California. (2017). Key to Identifying Common Household Ants. Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California. Retrieved November 22, 2023, from <>

7The President and Fellows of Harvard College. (2021). Life Cycle. Harvard Forest. Retrieved November 22, 2023, from <>

8Ant Colony on a Branch Photo by MorganBurke. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <>

9Ant Reproduction Photo by Myriams-Fotos. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <>

10Black Ant Photo by BubbleJuice. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <>