I'm new here and I would like to know if ants can see, I mean with their eyes not with antennas: I was walking around and found an ant specy, they were reacting when I moved my fingers towards them, as if they were seeing.

I would also to know do they have a "brain" and what I'm the most fascinated by is how do they find their way?

PS: English is not my local language that's why my vocabulary is limited. Please feel free to correct any mistakes​ and or improve my words. Thanks

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    $\begingroup$ Related question : 1) biology.stackexchange.com/questions/19848/… 2)biology.stackexchange.com/questions/56654/… $\endgroup$
    – Mesentery
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ This question was flagged as off-topic and it doesn't really answer my question. But thanks pointing out. $\endgroup$
    – esQmo_
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ I just told related questions, that if you are interested you can have a look at it :) $\endgroup$
    – Mesentery
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, thank you. I found some useful informations there. $\endgroup$
    – esQmo_
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! What research have you done before asking it here? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


Ants do have eyes, though how well (and even whether) they see depends on the ant. They also have brains.

You aren't wrong to put quotes around "brain" since in many organisms the nervous system isn't as centralized as in vertebrates, and when they do have concentrations of neurons in various places ("ganglia") it isn't always in the head, and the one in the head isn't always significantly larger than the other ones, so it's often hard to call that having a brain. This can be true of many insects:


Having said that ants do have a centralized nervous system, with the neurons in the head making a larger percentage of their body than most other insects, i.e. they have brains. It appears social insects tend to have larger brains for their body size, which includes bees and ants.


Ants also have eyes; they're just often too small to see clearly, especially when the ant itself is small and the eyes are the same color as the ant's head. Ants descended from wasp-like ancestors that probably had quite good eyes, like modern wasps and bees do. But ants mostly live on and underground and don't need eyes as much as flying, pollinating insects do, and how well ants can see varies a lot between the species.

Or I'll just quote Wikipedia:

Like most insects, ants have compound eyes made from numerous tiny lenses attached together. Ant eyes are good for acute movement detection, but do not offer a high resolution image. They also have three small ocelli (simple eyes) on the top of the head that detect light levels and polarization. Compared to vertebrates, most ants have poor-to-mediocre eyesight and a few subterranean species are completely blind. However, some ants, such as Australia's bulldog ant, have excellent vision and are capable of discriminating the distance and size of objects moving nearly a metre away.


Those same ants even have color vision it seems. Conversely, African army ants appear to be blind, although even that depends on the caste. From Sociobiology of the hypogaeic army ant Dorylus:

  • On workers:

    Eyes are either reduced or absent.

  • On males:

    Army ant males do indeed resemble wasps, having large and robust bodies and well developed eyes and wings

So it's very possible the ants you ran into could see your fingers.

  • $\begingroup$ This is good answer. I am curious that ants use pheromones to know who is who or who is the queen? $\endgroup$
    – user0193
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 18:26

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