Ants under a Microscope Classification, Microscopy and Observation

Ants., like human beings, are social organisms that live in highly organized societies. Typically, a colony of ants consists of several egg-laying queens or one, depending on the species, and an army of female worker ants. Males usually have wings and mate shortly before they die. They have shown complex social behavior through their interactions.

* Ants. have been associated with such behaviors as herding (through their relationship with aphids) and storing food in an organized manner.

Broad Categorization

  • Kingdom: Animalia.
  • Phylum: Arthropoda – Defined by creatures with an outer skeleton, articulated limbs, and a segmented physique.
  • Class: Insecta – Includes all insects.
  • Classification: Hymenoptera – A diverse category comprising numerous insects such as wasps, ants, bees, and sawflies, among other species.
  • Family: Formicidae – Ants..
  • Some of the most prevalent types of ants comprise:

  • Black woodworker ant.
  • Bullet ant.
  • Formica rufa – Redwood ants.
  • Formica sanguinea – crimson ants.
  • Formica polyctena.
  • Study of Ants.

    Forel Anguste is credited for paving the way in the scientific study of insects, particularly ants, which humans have known about throughout human history. Myrmecology is the branch of entomology that specifically deals with ants.

    As a child, Forel began classifying and collecting different types of ants, which allowed him to develop a good understanding of these insects. This experience ultimately led to him winning the prestigious Thore Prize in 1857 at the Academy of Science in Paris, France.

    Forel also relied on his knowledge and experience with ants to propose a new taxonomy based on the morphology of these insects.

    * Forel also made important contributions in the field through his research on the psychology of insects.

    However, myrmecology, which was founded by American entomologist and myrmecologist William Morton Wheeler in the late 1890s, also led him to spend the rest of his life studying these insects. His curiosity about ants increased only after he was introduced to several ants that he had not seen before.

    Wheeler, an expert in the discipline, gained international acclaim for designating numerous types of ants. In the process, he also acquired knowledge about their actions and physical structures, among other attributes, from his research.


    These experiments are aimed at studying the general morphology of several types of ants as well as their eggs, larvae, and pupae.

    By the conclusion of these activities, you should possess the capability to:

  • Learn how to prepare a sample for examination.
  • Acquire the knowledge of utilizing a microscope to examine various components of an ant.
  • Explain the physical characteristics of ant eggs, larvae, and pupae.
  • Lens for enlarging objects

    The overall structure of the eggs, larvae, and pupae can be examined by initially making observations with a magnifying glass before observing the ants under the microscope.


  • Magnifying glass/lens.
  • Ants.
  • Eggs.
  • Pupae.
  • Larvae.
  • Plastic tweezers.
  • Optional leather gloves.
  • Procedure

    * Ants. can be found just about anywhere in terrestrial habitats. Therefore, it should be easy to fine several types of ants just by looking around (e.g. underneath rocks, in soil, inside old wood, etc)

    Workers and queen ant larvae, eggs with come also will ants live or dead of consisting kit a order also can you.

    * Ant larvae can be found in marshy regions.

    · Wear your set of leather gloves since live ants can bite your skin.

    Carefully observe the different parts of the insect, such as the mandible, antennae, legs, abdomen, exoskeleton, thorax, and head, and gently pick up the ant using tweezers, whether it is alive or dead.

    If you have the chance to examine the eggs, utilize the magnifying glass to observe them by placing them either in a Petri dish. or on a microscope glass slide (with a black paper underneath for contrast).

    Carefully use your tweezers to lift the larvae and pupae and carry out observations: compare their visual traits with those of the eggs.

    · Document your findings.



    The legs with six segments are connected to the body, specifically the thorax, which is the central part of the body. All ants possess three primary body sections: the head, thorax, and abdomen, although certain ants might be bigger than others.

    Ants possess a vital framework (composed of chitin) that safeguards the internal organs and muscles. Additionally, upon examining the ant’s entire physique, one can observe the tough exterior covering resembling leather. By closely inspecting the head, one can easily discern the prominently toothed mouthparts known as mandibles, as well as a pair of compound eyes situated on either side and a set of antennae.

    * If you observe two sets of wings (situated in the thorax segment), then the specimen was a male ant.

    When observed through a magnifying glass and compared to the female workers, the queen ant stands out due to her larger size and potentially larger wings. Apart from that, her body parts resemble those of the worker ants.


    If you notice, they may appear in an oval shape, but if you take a closer look, you will see that they do not provide many details about their morphology. This is because the glass magnifying tool may not reveal all the intricate details. The ant eggs are very small, with a diameter of less than 1 mm.

    Larvae. and Pupae.

    The limbs and feelers of these creatures are tucked against their body. The body bears a resemblance to that of the mature individual, but in the case of those without a protective covering, you will observe that the immature stage may be enclosed in a cocoon. It lacks limbs or visual organs, but you will observe that the juvenile stage displays a worm-like form under the magnifying glass.

    Preparing the Specimen.

    Unlike the previous method, where you can observe an ant using a magnifying glass, this technique requires the prepared specimen to be used for the identification of chemicals.

    These include:..

    Storage utilizing Ethyl Alcohol


  • Specimen. (ant).
  • 70 to 75 percent ethyl alcohol.
  • Insect pins.
  • Set of tweezers.
  • Triangular point.
  • Water.-soluble glue.
  • Set of shears.
  • Preparation

    The sample intended for long-term preservation should be kept under the microscope in ethyl alcohol with a concentration of 70 to 75 percent in order to observe the ant.

    To examine the intricate aspects of the sample, the specimen must be prepared by following these steps:

    · Triangular point.s can be ordered online or hand-cut using a pair of scissors. To make a triangular point, use a pair of scissors to cut off a small piece from a strip or acid-free paper- This should be of the appropriate length to hold the specimen

    The thorax’s first segment (the bottom part of the ant) should be glued from the right side, extending from the point on the right side of the ant to the point with the triangular cut. Then, repeat this process with other ants, gluing them from the point to the triangular cut. Use a small amount of glue for the first segment of the thorax, and a small amount of glue for the glue.

    · Carefully tug the legs in a downward direction to reveal the entire physique.

    · The points can be supported using the insect pins.

    (Without any explanation)(antennae, legs) various of protection providing to addition in and stability high ensures it, time more consumes technique this While.

    The sample is prepared using various other techniques depending on the specific part you wish to examine more closely.

    These include:..

    In this area (waist sections), the mesosoma (central portion of the body) is raised in order to provide a clearer perspective. The middle and hind-legs are directed rearward while the fore-legs are facing forward. On a piece of paper, the ant is standing on its tarsae. The ant is standing – The standing position.

    The angles of these angles are easily viewed from the specimen, which makes it easy. The specimen is pointed to the left (head is pointed to). The coxae and second and third specimen are then attached. This method, known as Wilson-preparation/Wilson method, bends the legs of the specimen in a central position.

    This allows for easy observation of the elevated parts of the mesosoma and head. Additionally, the antennae bend downwards so that they face downwards. The tarsae and metatarsae are glued in such a way that they make contact with the tip. The specimen is glued in such a way that the tarsae and metatarsae make contact with the tip of the triangle. The legs of the specimen are bent in a basket-like manner on the ventral side using this method – giving them a shape similar to a basket.

    Male ants can be observed using the Wilson method to easily observe different angles of the abdomen.


    If you wish to observe different parts or inner parts of an ant, you can then follow the steps below and dissect the specimen.


  • Set of gloves.
  • Dissecting knife.
  • Saline solution (0.65% physiological saline).
  • Water.
  • Procedure

    · Wear a set of gloves.

    Use a dissecting knife to gently separate the different segments of the body, including the head, abdomen, and thorax, from each other.

    Using a pair of tweezers, gently cut the abdomen lengthwise and open it up to observe the inner parts of the intestine.

    After being dissected and dried in the air, the specimen is subsequently placed in saline or sap water for approximately 20 minutes. The process involves immersing the specimen in a diluted detergent solution (consisting of 1 part detergent and roughly 8 parts water) for approximately 10 minutes, which necessitates rehydration and softening if the specimen is in a dry state.

    * After the specimen has been dissected, 0.65 percent physiological saline can be included before it is examined under the microscope.



  • Specimen.
  • Stereo microscope.
  • Petri dish.
  • Procedure

    · Activate the upper illumination of the microscope to allow light to bounce off the surface of the specimen.

    · Rotate the revolving turret to position the lowest power objective.

    · For the glue specimen (on the triangular point), it can be viewed directly under the microscope at low power – Turning the pin slowly will allow you to get a clear image of different parts of the specimen. The specimen may be placed in a Petri dish. first so as to focus before turning it gently to observe different parts of the ant

    · For the dissected ant, place the segments in a Petri dish. and place the Petri dish. on the stage

    · Peer through the eyepiece and softly rotate the focus knob to bring the image into clarity.

    · Gently move the Petri dish. to get a clear image of each segment – Repeat this step for the dissected abdomen segment to observe the inner parts of the insect

    * These procedures can be repeated to observe the eggs, larvae, and pupae.

    You can repeat the above mentioned steps and switch to a higher objective by observing and recording this in zoom.

    Finally, lower the platform prior to removing the Petri dish..


    The subsequent information will be visible: because of the increased magnification capability of the microscope in contrast to a magnifying glass, this technique will uncover the three separate components of the ant (head, thorax, and abdomen), just like the magnifying glass.

    The thorax will be dissected into three separate sections (T1, T2, and T3) to showcase its structure. The wings function to reinforce a complex system of uneven blood vessels that are present in both the wings of male and female (queen ant) ants.

    Each section possesses a set of limbs, however, only the second and third sections sustain a set of wings each (the second set of wings situated on section T3 is relatively smaller than the first set) whereas.

    At the conclusion, the antenna might seem divided, similar to the knee, which possesses the ability to flex in the center. (Enabling the abdomen to flex beneath the body and emit venom from the abdominal glands), this serves as a vital feature that grants the ant with flexibility, it could also be feasible to distinguish the petiolus positioned between the thorax and abdomen by employing a greater level of magnification.

    The size of compound eyes, such as those found on species like ants and flies, can vary. Upon closer inspection, each eye will reveal numerous units known as ommatidia. In addition, the compound eyes of male ants and the queen commonly have three smaller eyes arranged in a triangular shape, which can also be observed under a microscope.

    It is possible to obtain a better view under the microscope by examining the lower lip (labium) and lower mandibles known as maxilla, the upper lip (labrum), two large upper mandibles, and various mouthparts of the ant from where the labial palp originates.

    The top, underside, and upper sections of the legs will also display a variety of delicate hairs.

    * Ant larvae – Will be white in color with an oval form.


    Some of the specifics of larvae that can be recognized under the microscope comprise:

  • Tiny strands – Enable them to stay connected to one another and on diverse surfaces.
  • Lack limbs.
  • Could possibly take place in close proximity to the eggs.
  • The mouth structures are highly developed, enabling them to consume food.
  • Pupae.

    In certain species, the pupal stage is defined by a chrysalis.

    For individuals who do not form a cocoon, the body will seem to be in a fetal position, with the legs crossed at the lower portion of the thorax.


    You can also attempt to discern the resemblances between ants and termites, regardless of whether they have any similarities. By examining various characteristics such as size, shape of different body parts, and more, you can then document and differentiate the various types of ants by observing them under a microscope. This may enable you to identify numerous other anatomical components.