World’s Fastest Ant Species

World's Fastest Ant Species
Saharan Silver Ant Capturing a Beetle

One of the exciting things about life on Earth is that there are creatures designed to survive, even in hostile environments. A good example is the Saharan silver ant (Cataglyphis bombycina), the world’s fastest ant species.

These ants thrive in the Sahara desert, where the sand’s daytime temperature can be as high as 140 degrees F (60 degrees C). In fact, these ants’ primary food is the remains of other insects that have died from the heat. Saharan silver ants play an important environmental role by helping to keep the desert clean. But how do they survive the heat?

Researchers have found that these ants are designed to move extremely fast. They can travel 108 times their body length in one second. That would be equal to a human running 1 ½ football fields in one second. Have you ever been barefoot on the beach and had to sprint over the hot sand? The ants run so fast that each foot is in contact with the ground for only seven milliseconds. That is not long enough for the heat to threaten the ant’s survival. Researchers say the muscle contraction speed is unique to Saharan silver ants, and it is at the limit of what the ant’s body can withstand, making them the world’s fastest ant species.

We see life no matter where we look on planet Earth. Life prevails from the hot desert sands to the extreme pressure and darkness of the deepest part of the oceans. Through the system of plant and animal life, even the extremes, God has provided for the needs of humans.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: National Wildlife, December/January 2021.