How Many Ants Are There in the World?
Ants are everywhere. They are social insects that live in colonies and are the most dominant and widely distributed insects on earth.
The total population of ants is estimated at around a million billion (one quadrillion) on earth. That number looks like 1,000,000,000,000,000. This outnumbers all living species except bacteria.
Ants are among the most successful insects in the galaxy. They have excellent survival skills and can last for several days or weeks without food or water.
There are over 12,500 ant species on earth with varying morphological and behavioral characteristics.
Ant specialists have also identified 290 genera and 21 extant families of ants. The number of ant species could be higher because there are still many unidentified and undescribed ant species.
It is quite challenging to catalog ant species because of limited taxonomic tools and knowledge. As research tools advance, scientists will be able to discover, recognize and describe more ant species in the future.
How many ants are there in an ant colony?
Most ant colonies have between 50,000 to 500,000 individual ants. Some colonies may have millions of ants.
The exact number of ants living in a colony varies widely depending on the species and the geographic region.
Ant colonies are eusocial and efficiently organized. There are queens, workers, drones, and soldiers working communally to ensure the colony runs smoothly. This is one of the reasons why ants have been able to survive for so long.
Where do ants live?
Ants live in terrestrial habitats all over the world. Some of their habitats include:
- Deserts and jungles
- Suburban areas
- Decaying plants
- Leaf litter
As long as the environment is conducive (food, water, shelter, warmth) for these insects, they can live anywhere, including your house.
What to do if ants live in your house
Seeing one or two ants crawling on your floors and furniture may not be alarming, but if the numbers increase, you may be looking at an ant infestation.
Dealing with an ant infestation is not challenging for homeowners because ants can be quickly spotted, unlike bed bugs and roaches. Also, ant colonies die out gradually once the insects have reproduced to their maximum.
However, if the ant colony is huge, the ants may cause structural damage to your home. So it is best to contact a local pest control service to gauge the level of infestation and provide a solution for the problem.
How long have ants been on earth?
According to the Ants & Climate Change Journal, ants were discovered about 140 to 168 million years ago. This was during the Jurassic period when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and vegetation was mostly cone and spore-bearing plants such as ferns and pines.
Researchers and scientists believe that ants, bees, and wasps shared a common ancestor, and their evolution to the modern species resulted from their foraging and nesting habits.
Which country has the most number of ants?
Australia, which hosts over 4,000 known ant species. Out of the 4,000 species, over 1,000 are endemic to the region.
Are ants present in all continents?
No, ants are present in almost all continents except Antarctica, whose mean annual temperature averages -10 to -60 degrees Celsius. Also, no ants have been recorded in islands like Greenland, Iceland, and some parts of Polynesia and Hawaii.
Ants cannot thrive in cold or wet climates. That is why no native species have been spotted in the continents and islands mentioned above.
What is the ratio of ants to humans in the world?
There are about 7.9 billion people on the earth, with Vatican City having the least population of about 800 people and China having the highest population of around 1.4 billion people.
Since the number of ants is estimated to be about ten thousand trillion, it means there are about 1.2 billion ants for every single person.
If the human population continues to grow at the current rate, we can exceed the ant population in around 2,000 years or more.
Are all the ants as heavy as all the humans on earth?
On average, ants weigh around 1mg to 5 mg depending on the species (2.5mg average), which means it takes 400,000 ants to make a Kilo.
All the ants in the world would weigh about 2.5 million tons, while an average human weighs about 61.2kgs. With 7.9 Billion humans on earth with a combined weight of 483 million tons, humans outweigh ants 193 to 1.
How do you weigh an ant?
There are two ways to weigh an ant.
Weighing a single ant
Place the ant you wish to weigh on a small electronic balance and record the readings. You can weigh different species of ants and take an average of their weights. However, you should refrigerate the ants first before weighing them to prevent them from running away.
Using a container
Take a small container and weigh it empty on your electronic balance. Then, place a counted number of ants in the container and weigh it again. Deduct the weight of the empty container from the weight of the container plus ants and divide the number of ants to get the average weight of an individual ant.
Amazing facts about ants
Ants are small insects, but they are quite interesting. Below is a compilation of amazing facts you didn’t know about ants.
Ants can carry more than their body weight
Ants are stronger than you think. Some species can carry more than 10 to 100 times their body weight. The Asian weaver ants, also known as Oecophylla smaragdina are so powerful that they can carry up to 100 times their body weight.
Weaver ants can be found in Southeast Asia, Australia, and Western Pacific Islands.
Ants can live for several decades
Most insects have a short lifespan, but ants can live for several years. The queens, which are responsible for the reproduction and procreation of their colonies, can live for two or three decades.
Ants do not have lungs
Humans and animals require lungs to breathe properly and survive, but ants do not. Instead of lungs, they have small openings called spiracles. The openings are located on their thorax and abdomen. It is through these openings that oxygen gets delivered to the bodies of the ants.
Some ants are farmers
The leafcutter ants, also known as Atta cephalotes, can grow their own food in their nests. These ants have a symbiotic relationship with fungi to survive and maintain their nests and colonies.
Ants have two stomachs
Ants are eusocial insects, and they have two stomachs that help them thrive.
- Crop/social stomach: This is for holding food that the ants share among themselves.
- Real stomach: This stomach’s main function is to digest liquid foods.
The two stomachs are located in the abdomen of the ants and separated by the proventriculus valve that prevents the backflow of liquid food.
Ants do not have ears
Ants have a high level of organization, and their success is a result of efficient communication. However, ants do not have ears, so they convey information through pheromones or chemical signals.
Ants produce sound by either drumming their mandibles against a specific substrate or by stridulation (rubbing a part of their body against another). Since ants cannot hear, they perceive the sounds through special subgenual organs in their legs.
Ants can survive under water
Ants require oxygen to survive, just like other living animals. Sometimes, these insects can drown when their nests get submerged due to heavy rains or water accidents around the home.
However, some ants can survive for up to two weeks while under water. These ants survive by entering an anesthetized state where oxygen intake decreases by about 20% of normal consumption.
An experiment conducted in 1904 revealed that the black carpenter ants could recover fully after being submerged under water for about a week.
About 000.000 (2 quadrillions, 739 trillion, 726 billion) ants die every day.
Queen ants can live for several decades, while male queens live for about a week. Worker ants can live for about one year.
Ants are unlikely to destroy your home because you can spot an infestation much faster than other insects. Still, if left unattended, ants can cause structural damage similar to ants.
No, these ants are not harmful to humans, but they can eat through the wood around your home to create small tunnels for their nests or colonies.
Ants are attracted to water and food, just like most insects. So, if there is a damp area or standing water around your home, it is not unlikely to find ants. These insects also like sugary things, pet food, and wheat products.