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ant licking
The mouth parts of ants are very important tools for almost any task performed by ants. In particular, the labiomaxillary complex is essential for food intake.

Six labial and six maxillary muscles with different functions control the several joints and ensure the proper performance of the labiomaxillary complex.

Since glossa protractor muscles are absent, the protraction of the glossa, the distal end of the labium, is a nonmuscular movement.

Do ants really have tongues? They don’t have anything that looks like a vertebrate tongue, but they definitely have a structure that functions in the same manner.

The tongue structures of an ant are fairly complex, because an ant mouth has many functions to perform:

  • groom themselves
  • socially groom others, including the larvae
  • determine food quality
  • manipulate food
  • ingest food
  • give food to others via trophallaxis (mutual exchange of regurgitated food nutriments or other secretions that occurs between adults and larvae of certain social insects; such as, ants)
  • beg for food from others

An ant mouth has many utensils and parts. There are brushes made of setae (stiff hair, or bristle); papillae (small protuberances on the tongue) for tasting; thin finger-like palps (segmented appendages usually found near the mouth in invertebrate organisms; such as, insects, the functions of which include sensation, locomotion, and feeding) for tasting, begging and manipulating; and various grooves and filters for moving and processing food.

The blade-like mandibles surrounding the mouth are for cutting, carrying, and in some species, catching prey.

This entry is located in the following unit: myrmeco-, myrmec-, myrme-, myrmic-, myrmi- + (page 1)