How do ants crawl on walls? A biologist explains their sticky, spiky, gravity-defying grip

pema href="https://theconversation.com/us/topics/curious-kids-us-74795"Curious Kids/a is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to a href="mailto:curiouskidsus@theconversation.com"curiouskidsus@theconversation.com/a./em/p hr blockquote pstrongHow do ants crawl on walls? – Ethan, age 9, Dallas, Texas/strong/p /blockquote hr pWhen I first started my job a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=hrO-baMAAAAJamp;hl=enamp;oi=ao"as a biologist/a at the University of South Florida, I drove my Jeep to a grassy field, dug up a mound of fire ants and shoveled it into a 5-gallon bucket. Immediately, thousands of ants swarmed out of the soil and up the walls of the bucket headed for freedom. Luckily I had a lid./p pHow do ants make climbing walls, ceilings and other surfaces look so easy? a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=enamp;view_op=list_worksamp;gmla=AJsN-F7sTTsnLhAu39Zwg-90iH0Hwx9849J-UEbRISOmCR2ouYfcOp2_o8P0yqau7y64vL6XeYU3LFJ-RpqacVDz2Q8Qln7xBQamp;user=hrO-baMAAAAJ"I’ve been studying ants for 30 years/a, and their climbing abilities never cease to amaze me. /p pWorker ants – a href="https://theconversation.com/six-amazing-facts-you-need-to-know-about-ants-100478"who are all female/a – have an impressive a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-006-0194-y"toolbox of claws, spines, hairs/a and sticky pads on their feet that enable them to scale almost any surface./p h2Human hands vs. ant feet/h2 pTo understand ant feet, it helps to compare them with human hands. Your hand has one broad segment, the palm. Sprouting from your palm are four fingers and an opposable thumb. Each finger has three segments, while your thumb has only two segments. A hard nail grows from the tips of your fingers and thumb./p pHumans have two hands – ants have six feet. Ant feet are similar to your hands but are more complex, with an additional set of weird-looking parts that enhance them. /p