Can Ants Suffocate? [What You Need To Know]

Ants have been annoying humans forever.

While there are various ways to eliminate these annoying insects, many believe ants can be drowned in water or suffocated inside a jar.

We hate to disappoint you, but ants cannot be suffocated that easily. This is because ants do not have normal lungs like humans or other mammals. Like all animals, ants need oxygen to convert food and water into energy. Their respiratory system is a lot different than that of mammals.

Read deeper into this article to find answers to these questions and some fascinating facts about ants.

Do Ants need Oxygen to Breathe?

Like all insects, ants need oxygen to carry out their metabolism.

However, they don’t breathe and take oxygen from the environment through the lungs.

They don’t have lungs or a respiratory system that depends upon the lungs to take in oxygen. (Source)

Ants use openings called spiracles to get oxygen.

Ants do not have lungs to breathe. Instead, they use spiracles, tiny openings on their body’s sides. (Source)

Ants, trophallaxis


These openings allow oxygen to pass inside and outside an ant’s body.

Spiracles are located on the sides of an ant’s abdomen. They use these tiny holes to get oxygen inside of their body and, in return, expel carbon mono-oxide.

These tube-like spiracles are connected within their bodies and ensure oxygen flows to every part of their body.

Can ants be killed by blocking their spiracles?

Of course, there are many ways to block their spiracles and get rid of ants.

Here are some of the ways you can block their spiracles and suffocate them to death:

Use soapy water to kill ants

Soapy water can block their spiracles due to its chemical properties, and it will stick around the spiracles to ensure no oxygen gets in and a slow death to ants by not allowing oxygen to their bodies.

[amazon box=”B07HKR2QP9″]

Use Chalk powder to suffocate ants

Powdered chalk can stick to their spiracles and suffocate them. It is difficult for ants to clean their spiracles once the powder blocks them.

You can use chalk powder to sprinkle it around their nest or spread it directly on ants.

[amazon box=”B00006IBOR”]

Do ants run out of breath if trapped in a jar?

As ants do not have lungs to breathe, they don’t get out of breath.

However, they need oxygen to be able to process metabolic activity inside them.

ant in glass jar

If you want to trap them in a jar to suffocate them, it will take days before they die out due to suffocation.

This is because ants need a small amount of oxygen to carry out their metabolic activity, and it will take a lot of time to consume all the oxygen in a jar.

Instead, ants can die of hunger or lack of water before they can die out due to the absence of oxygen.

How long can ants survive without food?

Ants can survive without taking any food and water for five days to several months.

Other factors, such as temperature and working hours, can also affect their survival in cases where they are hungry for a long time.

Temperatures play an essential role in their survival. Any temperature between 75-95 degrees Fahrenheit is considered an optimal temperature for ants.

Ants need more food and to be able to generate energy while living in high temperatures.

Their survivability also depends on the working hours of ants.

Worker ants perform hectic tasks and need food and water to maintain their energy levels.

Ants have two stomachs

These tiny critters have two stomachs because they’re always hungry and like sharing their food.

They store their food in one stomach to consume it. The second stomach is used to store food in case their fellow ants are hungry (because sharing is caring, right?).

They share food through a process called trophallaxis.

This is done through their mouths, which is why you see some ants bumping into each other’s faces. (Source)

Can ants swim?

Just like all humans can’t swim, all ants can’t swim as well.

Various species of ants live in different habitats; some can swim, but some cannot.

Some species of ants have mastered the art of swimming as they have evolved under certain circumstances.

For example, Camponotus Schmitzi, a diving ant, can dive into liquids and swim its way out of them. (Source)

worker ants, water drops, ants

Ants can be creative when they interact with water, due to air bubbles and other tactics.

Some ants, such as fire ants (and some other ants), can make rafts when they’re hit by a flood.

They join their legs and bodies to make a wide floating raft that can float on water due to its low density.

Ants live quite the crazy life!

Can ants survive underwater?

It’s not a good idea if you are planning to spray ants with water to get rid of them because ants can survive underwater for upwards of 24 hours.

ant underwater

Ants and most insects don’t have lungs and don’t need constant breathing as humans do.

They can block their spiracles to ensure the water does not get inside their bodies.

We go over a lot more about ants underwater in this article.

How long can ants hold their breath?

On average, ants can hold their breath for up to 24 hours.

Technically, ants don’t breathe.

Instead, they have tiny openings on their body called spiracles from where they can intake oxygen.

They can close these spiracles if they don’t want anything other than oxygen to pass through.

How can Ants Breathe Underground?

Ants dig an underground nest to live inside it.

The process of breathing underground is the same as breathing on the ground.

However, they have to make sure that there is a constant flow of oxygen inside their nests that the ants breathe.

ant underground

Ants take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide.

Various gases are also produced in their nest due to the food they accumulate or the soil itself.

Ants have to get rid of these to ensure there is enough oxygen present inside their nests.

Ants are skilled and creative workers that work tirelessly for their ant colony.

They design their nests in a way that makes sure there is sufficient oxygen inside their nests, and they make multiple openings to ventilate their nests and to make sure their Queen Ant has everything she needs.

Temperature plays an important role in how ants design their nest, and they must work on the design throughout the seasons to adjust the temperature inside their nest.

Other Articles Answering Some Common Ant Questions

When it comes to ants, there are so many questions.

We go into detail answering some of these common questions on our website.

Here are some of those posts:

Leave a Comment