If you’ve ever seen an ant moving a plant part or a dead insect, you might have been amazed to watch it maneuver an object much larger than itself. Perhaps it made you start asking questions: why are ants so strong? How strong are they, exactly? How many ants would have to work together to lift a person? Keep reading as we dive into the answers to these questions!
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How Strong Are Ants Compared to Humans?
Ants are tiny critters, but in terms of relative size and strength, they are much stronger than humans. Depending on the species of ant, some of them can lift up to 50 times their own body mass.
How strong is that exactly?
Consider this: the current weightlifting record is somewhere around 1,100 pounds, set by world bodybuilding champion Hafthor Bjornsson. Bjornsson is a big enough guy to have earned the nickname “The Mountain,” but even his impressive deadlift feat was only about two to two and a half times his body mass.
By comparison, if Bjornsson were as strong as an ant, he could have lifted over 17,000 pounds. Of course, we all know that no human is that strong.
Ants routinely lift and move things much heavier than themselves; they are also skilled at moving things that may be relatively lightweight but are much larger and bulkier than they are. These common, everyday actions would be comparable to a human routinely moving around objects that weigh several thousand pounds.
Given these numbers, it’s easy to see that ants are much stronger than humans despite, or perhaps because of, their tiny size.
Why Are Ants So Strong?
There are a few different reasons why ants are so strong. Some of these reasons include:
- Ants are built for strength: The body shape of ants gives them a natural strength. Their limbs are strong, their bodies lightweight, and they have exceptional muscles that help them move not only themselves but food and other objects with ease.
- Their small size makes them stronger: Most insects are relatively strong because their small body mass does not take a lot of strength to move around, and ants are no different. They weigh very little relative to the strength in their muscles, so they don’t waste a lot of energy on lifting and maneuvering their own mass; this means that more of their overall strength and energy can go to moving other objects.
- They work together: Though ants can lift up to 50 times their own body mass, they can move much heavier objects if a bunch of them combine their strength and work together. You can see a great example of ants’ exceptional teamwork skills in the following video:
How Many Ants Would it Take to Lift a Human?
It may seem that ants could never lift a person, but such a feat would theoretically be possible if there were enough of them all working together. But just how many would it take?
It’s hard to say for sure.
Obviously, you would need a massive number of ants; but the exact number would depend on the type of ants doing the job and how much weight they could lift–some are stronger than others, so not all of them can lift 50 times their own body weight.
The number of ants needed would also depend on the weight of the human being lifted, as well as whether the ants were attempting to lift the human off the ground or simply drag them a short distance.
This forum post from Reddit gives a good example of how to figure out how many ants would be required to move a person. If an ant weighs .1 milligram and can lift 10 times its own body weight, it could lift one milligram; if it could lift 50 times its weight, it could move 5 milligrams.
The first step is to convert pounds to milligrams: a 150-pound human would weigh over 68 million milligrams. If each ant can lift one milligram, it would take over 68 million ants to move the person.
If each ant could lift 5 milligrams, it would still take over 13 and a half million ants to lift the person.
If the ants weren’t lifting the person but were merely dragging them across the ground, it might take relatively fewer ants to do the job. Dragging wouldn’t necessarily require the same all-out strength as lifting would.
That said, you would still need a lot of ants to move a human of any size, no matter how strong the ants or small the person.
Ants are incredibly strong little creatures; some can lift as much as 50 times their own body mass. By comparison, the strongest humans can only lift about two to two and a half times their body mass. Considering this, ants are much stronger than humans. If you’re looking for more interesting facts about ants, you can find them here.