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Do Ants Breathe?



Ants DO breathe.

Ants have a respiratory system that functions to bring oxygen in and out of the body.

More Info: Just like humans, insects are aerobic organisms requiring oxygen to survive. The respiratory system in living beings functions to deliver oxygen to all of the organism’s cells and to remove carbon dioxide, the waste product of cellular respiration.

The Ant’s Respiratory System

Ants have an interesting respiratory system that consists of spiracles and respiratory ducts called trachea. Spiracles are tiny openings located on the outside of the exoskeleton and function to transport oxygen into and carbon dioxide out of the ant’s tracheal system.

How Ant Respiration Works

Once oxygen has entered through the ant’s spiracle, it will then enter the tracheal trunk where it will then be dispersed throughout the myriad of smaller tracheal tubes that branch out throughout the body. At the end of each tracheal branch is a tiny cell called a tracheole that functions to provide the interface for the exchange of gasses.

Did You Know: While resting an ant will exchange up to 50% of the air in its tracheal tubes every second, which is comparable to human breathing during moderate exercise.

Did You Know: Tubes are lined with chitin, which is a transparent, tough membranous protein material that functions as a support structure for the trachea.



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“Insect Physiology: Respiratory System.” General Entymology ENT 425. North Carolina State University, n.d. Web. 13 June 2011.

Press, The Associated. “Scientists see how bugs breathe.” Ohio Integrated Pest Management. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2011.

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