In this article we’ll answer the question, If I snapped my fingers, would ants hear an explosive sound? Sounds like a crazy question right! Well there’s more to it than you would think.
No ants won’t hear an explosion. Their anatomy is different from humans and other mammals. As result they don’t have ears and are incapable of hearing sounds in the way we think of them. Instead they detect sound as a amplitude and pressure differential.
Well, this isn’t a random question and a lot of people are definitely curious to hear the answer. There’s way more to it than a simple answer paragraph though. So keep reading and you’ll learn not only how ants hear and what they experience if you did snap your fingers next to them…
Ants and Sound
You probably thought that if you snapped your fingers ants would feel that “Thanos snap”, right? Well, ants are insects hence they don’t function like us. They don’t even have eardrums that can allow them to effectively detect and hear sounds at different frequencies.
But are ants sensitive to sound? How would do they respond if they would hear the effects of snapped fingers as explosives? Ants are sensitive to sound and can detect it. But the sound detection technique tends to vary depending on the group of the insects.
Ants that usually produce sound through stridulation usually detect sound via the subgenual organ. This is because, in their natural setting, these ants need to rub certain parts of their body in order to produce sounds.
To pick these sound waves, the other members of the colony have to use the organ that’s found below the femur and the tibia leg joint.
Other species of ants use certain behavioral characteristics to detect sounds. These may include chemicals such as pheromones or some behavioral responses that some of them have developed along the way to protect their colonies and thrive.
What Would Ants Hear If I Snapped my Fingers In front of them?
Conceptualizing this is quite challenging. But the first and most important thing that you need to understand is that ants can’t hear. They are just like many other invertebrates that don’t have ears to detect sound waves. So, if you were prepared to unleash a Thanos kind of snap on them, then it will go to waste.
When dealing with such small insects, the idea of sound and its detection significantly varies. They are not huge like us human beings. That’s why the proportionality of sound (i.e. small whispers or loud snaps) doesn’t seem to affect these insects.
If we are to explain this scenario in its simplicity, then it would simply mean that they can’t effectively tell apart small sounds and loud sounds. Well, if we take another angle of view it means that what we think to be small sounds to use doesn’t translate to loud sounds to ants.
Well, at least you now understand that when it comes to sounds, the world doesn’t operate in a linear manner depending on the size of the animal.
To give you an overview of this, you need to understand that ants usually register vibrations coming from your fingers snapping as generally significant.
But did you know that these insects have also been morphologically prepared before and they are therefore very familiar with sounds much louder than the snaps produced by your fingers?
For instance, how do they take in the large thunder strikes that usually occur during the rainy seasons? Besides that, since these animals usually such for food in the bush sometimes, they have probably experienced a branch or a tree trunk falling. It’s also important to note that there are some animals that have probably walked close to their nests.
What this means that by snapping your fingers, these insects would be least bothered. Nothing would shock them as an explosive sound because they have already heard louder noises before and therefore their bodies can effectively register such kind of noise and it would not even be deafening.
These insects are most likely attuned to better and finer sound frequencies than those produced by your snaps. It might be quite shocking to you. But we can confidently state that these insects would probably register your annoying snaps at a very much lower pitch than you expected.
To Ants, Sound is Just an Amplitude of Pressure
Scientifically, the sound is termed as an expressive component of air pressure. So, it doesn’t matter if this type of pressure acts on a small or large square micrometer. Regardless of the area, it’s still generally considered an amplitude of pressure.
This means that every square micrometer or a square meter area, the sound pressure would still be the same.
That’s why if you beat a drum close to the ant’s nest or even whisper, each head in that colony would experience the same type of pressure wave and that means that the sound level would be the same.
Do Ants Hear Like Mammals?
Ants definitely don’t hear the same way mammals do. However, they have developed mechanisms that let them “Listen” to sounds. Instead of hearing sounds via the auditory canals, ants usually detect sound by feeling the vibrations on the ground.
They have special sensors that are located on their knees and feet. This allows them to interpret sound signals from their surroundings.
Besides that, ants also use their antennae as well as the hair on their bodies to feel and detect what’s happening within their locality.
Tympanal Organs and Ants
This is an organ that consists of a thin and horny chitinous membrane that’s found on the surface of the insect’s body. It’s mainly found in ants as well as bees and wasps. This membrane can move back and forth in case of stimuli or sound waves.
The membrane has a nerve fiber coming from the ganglion cell. This fiber is responsible for transmitting the sound impulses to the ant’s nervous system. We can consider this type of ear as a pressure ear.
Well, this is because the tympanic membrane can only be activated by pressure from the sound waves.
Are There Other Insects That Hear Differently to Ants?
There are very few insects that can actually detect sounds. Well, key attention has been given to those insects that can make distinctive sounds. This includes crickets, butterflies, and grasshoppers among others.
Crickets and grasshoppers belong to the Orthoptera insect group. They usually have ears and, therefore, the ability to detect sound. Crickets have ears that are placed on their first walking legs. On the other hand, grasshoppers have ears on the first segment of their abdomen.
Mosquitos are the only insects from Diptera that are known to have ears. They are found on their head and form part of their antennas. The few insects mentioned in this section have pairs of functional auditory organs that can at least help them hear sounds.
Cercal Organs in Cockroaches and Crickets
Cockroaches detect sound differently from ants. These insects also have the cercal organ that’s found in the posterior end of its abdomen. This organ usually contains a thick brush with thousands of fine hair.
When the insect is exposed to sound, this nerve-rich organ will go ahead and discharge certain impulses that can help to detect the sound. It’s highly versatile and effective for use. This is because the organ can actually detect sound over a broad range of vibration frequencies.
For instance, it said that the cercal organ can detect vibrational frequencies that go as low as 100 hertz to as high as 3,000 hertz. While we are confident that the cercal organ is highly sensitive. Its sensitivity is still not clear (in terms of precise measurements).
Note: Insects such as mosquitos can sometimes behave like ants when it comes to detecting sounds. This is because they use the antennae as a sensory organ. It can effectively serve the insects as a smell receptor and as a tactual receptor.
Would These Insects Hear the Snapping Sound of Fingers Like an Explosive?
First, it’s very important to understand that an explosive sound is something that would damage these insects significantly. In some instances, it would even cause death. Even though these insects have ears, the pressure is still a crucial factor in detecting the sound waves.
The interaction between the two different pressures and the responsible organs is vital for these insects in identifying the direction of the sound. Generally, these insects simply detect small sounds as loud sounds.
This idea is quite difficult to conceptualize in human beings since we hear sounds differently. However, trust me that snapping your fingers in the presence of these insects won’t do as much as whispering to them.
The Bottom Line
It would definitely be fun to see how ants would react to loud sounds. We would snap our fingers at them and they would freak out and pass away due to the explosive effects.
Who would even buy pesticides to eliminate these stubborn insects? Because if there is an infestation it would mean that you need to only snap your fingers a couple of times and these insects would disappear at the sound of an explosion.
But it’s clear that things definitely don’t work as we think. Scientifically, ants simply use vibrations to hear.
So, if you are going to snap your finger, these insects will pick the sound frequencies in the form of vibrations and then process them via the subgenual organ that’s found below their knees.
If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:
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All the best
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