Mysteries Of The Insect World: Do Ants Have Lungs?

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

The article poses the question of whether ants have lungs. It is a valid question, as ants are a part of the Hymenoptera order, which also includes wasps and bees. These insects are known for their aerial respiratory system, which means they use their wings to pump air in and out of their bodies. However, ants do not have wings, so how do they breathe?

How do ants breathe?

Do Ants Have Lungs

When you look at an ant, you’ll see several small, round openings on the sides of its body. These are called spiracles, and they allow ants to breathe in oxygen. Ants get the oxygen they need from the air around them, as well as from their food.

This allows them to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. They can also regulate the amount of oxygen they intake based on the activity level of the colony.

Do Ants Have Lungs?

Ants do not have lungs like humans. Instead, they use spiracles to take in oxygen and distribute it throughout their bodies. The spiracles are situated on the sides of their bodies and allow them to breathe in even when they are submerged in water.

Carbon dioxide is eliminated through the same tubes and openings as oxygen- which is why ants don’t suffocate when they are submerged in water.

How do ants eliminate carbon dioxide?

Ants use their tracheas to remove carbon dioxide from their bodies. This is a process called respiration. The trachea is tiny tubes that run throughout the body and allow ants to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

When an ant breathes, it takes in oxygen through its tracheal tubes. The oxygen is transported to all of the ant’s organs and enters its blood, where it can be used for energy.

Carbon dioxide is produced as a waste product of respiration, and the ants get rid of it by excreting it from their bodies or exhaling it from their mouths.

How long can ants hold their breath?

Ants can hold their breath for a very long time. They do this by closing off their spiracles, which are the openings that they use to breathe. This permits them to survive in environments where there is little or no oxygen.

When submerged, the ant closes its spiracles and uses stored oxygen in its body until it can reach the surface again.

How many spiracles do ants have?

ants near water

Ants have 10 or 12 pairs of spiracles, depending on the species. These spiracles are tiny holes on the sides of an ant’s body that allow it to breathe. They open and close to allow air in and out of the ants’ bodies.

Though it’s not common knowledge, ants breathe through more than just their mouths. They can also breathe through their antennae, but the majority of breathing is done through the little holes on their bodies.

This allows them to stay submerged underwater for extended periods of time.

Where are the spiracles located?

Spiracles are the openings on an insect’s body that allow it to breathe. There are two types of spiracles- dorsal and ventral. The ones located on the top are called dorsal spiracles, while those that sit against parts of an ant’s body facing downwards towards its feet are ventral.

Interestingly, ants breathe through their spiracles. These small holes are all over the ant’s body and allow it to take in oxygen. Without them, the ant would not be able to survive for very long.

What is the difference between lungs and spiracles?

“Spiracles” are small openings on the surface of an insect’s body that allow them to breathe. They are usually found in the thorax (the middle section) and abdomen (the back section).

Insects with spiracles do not have lungs; instead, they rely on their circulatory system to bring oxygen directly to their tissues.

Ants exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide through tiny holes in their bodies called spiracles. These spiracles allow air into tiny tubes called tracheae which stretch throughout the ant’s body.

The tracheae take in oxygen from the surrounding area, allowing the ant to breathe even if it is submerged in water.

When an ant breathes, it takes in oxygen through its antennae and expels carbon dioxide through its spiracles. If the spiracles are closed, the ants will suffocate because they can’t let out the carbon dioxide.

Can Ants shut off their spiracles?

ant carrying leaf

Ants have the ability to close their spiracles or breathing pores when they need to get rid of excess air. This helps them maintain their internal environment and prevents them from suffocating.

Interestingly, when ants get too wet, they can’t close their spiracles, and they drown. This is because the water droplets stick to their surface and prevent them from closing the holes.

Unfortunately, this has a downside because they can’t breathe out; they have to wait until they dry off before they can reopen their spiracles and breathe in again.

Can ants drown since they don’t have lungs?

Another mystery of the insect world is whether ants can drown. The answer is no, and they won’t drown just because they don’t have lungs.

Ants breathe through small holes all over their body, and even if they’re completely submerged in water, they can easily hold their breath for a really long time by closing these holes.

In fact, ants can even use their bodies as waterproof rafts by turning themselves upside down and allowing their legs to float on the surface of the water while the rest of their body remains dry.

Do ants Breathe underwater?

profile portland structural

Insects, including ants, have a respiratory system that allows them to hold their breath underwater.

Their tracheal tubes allow them to take in oxygen from the air and send it directly to their tissues. This means they can stay submerged for extended periods of time without having to come up for air.

Furthermore, during a process called torpor, these creatures can slow their metabolism and survive with less oxygen than they would need under normal circumstances. Torpor is often used as a survival mechanism during times of drought or famine.

Lastly, when an ant is submerged in water, it creates a temporary air bubble around its body that helps it breathe. This bubble is created by the insect’s abdominal muscles and allows it to stay underwater for extended periods of time.


Ants have an open circulatory system that relies on diffusion to move oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. Air makes its way into the body through small openings called spiracles and moves throughout the body.

Oxygen and carbon dioxide diffuse through tubes in the neck to release waste gases. The trachea helps to exchange air and fluid between the lungs and other parts of the body.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.