How Many Ants Are In The World? [9 Fun Facts About Ants]

how many ants are in the world

How Many Ants Are In The World?

Have you ever thought to yourself “how many ants are in the world?”

Ants are insects that you have probably seen throughout your lifetime. All you have to do is drop a cube of sugar on the floor, and five minutes later you would see a long line of ants.

These insects are everywhere and distributed all around the globe. Therefore you are likely to see ants in almost all corners of the world. Due to its ubiquitous nature, questions like “how many ants are in the world?” are bound to come up.

Curiosity is human nature and it is no different in this topic. The adaptation of ants to different environments and conditions has been a source of interest to many people. Even scientists are constantly researching this insect to find how they do it.

In addition to telling you how many ants are in the world, we would be talking about some fascinating facts about ants in this article. Now to answer your question…

How Many Ants are there in the World?

how many ants are there in the world?

There are about 10 quintillion ants in the world. Obviously, this number is based on scientific estimation; nobody can go counting all the ants. However, this figure is as accurate as it can get.

Again, ants are estimated to be about ten quintillion in the whole world. That’s more zeros than you can ever count. To put it into perspective, there are more ants in the world than stars in our galaxy. That’s just mind-blowing!

This vast population signifies that the adaptive and reproductive qualities of ants are top-notch. As we have said, ants are one of the insects you can find in almost all corners of the world.

How Many Ants Species are in the World?

ants on leaf

All ants are not the same. Some are bigger than others, darker than others and some even bite while others don’t. This shows that there are different species of ants. Hence, if the population of ants is that vast, how many ant species are there in the world?

12,000.

Yes. There are over 12,000 ant species in the world. These are different species with unique physical properties and habitats. You can find as many as 700 different species in one country and as few as just 10 in others.

From studies, this difference in ant species in several countries is due to the number of natural habitats available. A country with a higher number of natural habitats for ants is bound to have more species of ant and vice versa.

However, the cataloguing of ant species is currently ongoing, therefore in future; the number of ant species in the world might hit 30,000. A lot of ant species are still unrecognized and with the advances in science and taxonomy, they will be discovered sooner than later.

How Many Ants are in a Colony?

You would have noticed that you rarely see a single ant. This is because they are social insects and tend to move in groups. They live together in clusters called colonies.

The number of ants in each colony differs. However, it can range from a few dozens to thousands or even millions of ants per colony. The average number of ants per colony has been found to be around 50,000 – 500,000.

Each colony has a hierarchy. Therefore every colony has a queen, soldiers and workers. This hierarchy ensures division of labour and that is the main reason why ants can survive in different conditions.

The population of ant colonies explode during summer because they prefer warmer seasons. Therefore you are likely to see ants often crawling around your house during summer.

While many ants are social and live in groups, not all ants do so. These ants are solitary ants. They do not live in colonies and must survive on their own.

Where Do Most Ants Live?

ant on leaf

Ants can exist almost anywhere on land. They can live in;

  • Forests
  • Houses
  • Deserts
  • Suburbs
  • Jungles, etc.

They can literally live anywhere in the world. Being a socially aware insect, ants tend to live in organized colonies that can be on ground level, underground or even on trees. For instance, carpenter ants are known to cause structural damage to the wood in the process of making their nest.

What matters most to them is a source of food. Once there is a sufficient food supply, ants will build their nest in that area. Some ants can be specific about what they want near their nests, especially vegetation, while others do not care.

As you can see, ants can live anywhere on land from forests to suburbs once the conditions are right. This condition will mainly include food supply before other things.

Which Continent has the Most Ants?

When it comes to the pattern of distribution of terrestrial organisms, the world is divided into eight biogeographic regions. These regions are Nearctic, Neotropic, Palearctic, Afrotropic, Australasia, Indomalaya, Oceania and Antarctica.

When it comes to ants, the biogeographic region with the highest number of ants is the Neotropic and Indomalaya regions. They host about 128 identified lineages making them the region with the largest number of ant genera. However, more than 40% of identified ant genera are endemic to the Neotropic region.

Biogeographic RegionTotal GeneraPercentage Endemic Genera
Neotropic12841%
Indomalaya12819%
Australasia11526%
Afrotropic8835%
Palearctic8212%
Nearctic733%
Oceania442%

Which Country Has the Highest Number of Ants? 

how many ants are in the world?

When it comes to a single country, Australia holds that record. Australia by far has the highest number of ants by being host to more than 4,000 known species. Of these, over 1,000 are endemic to the country.

As we said earlier, this is because Australia has a multitude of natural habitats. Therefore ants are naturally bound to be plentiful.

Which Continent Does Not Have Ants?

The answer is Antarctica. The temperature in this continent ranges from -10°C to -60°C. That is very cold even for humans. Temperature seems to be a very huge factor that influences the habitat of ants. In addition to Antarctica, there has been no ant recorded in Greenland and Iceland.

Ants, and other insects, have a tough time living in such cold conditions. Therefore they find it hard to thrive in such a cold and wet environment. Greenland and Iceland are both notorious for their cold climate as a large portion of their lands is permanently covered by ice caps.

Hence you will not find ants in Antarctica and probably not in Greenland or Iceland.

How Many Ants are in the World per Person [Ant to Human Ratio]

The human population currently stands at 7.9 billion people. That’s quite massive with China taking the lead with 1.4 billion people and the Vatican City coming in last at 800 people. We have already established that there are about ten quintillion ants in the world. Therefore to get the ant-to-human ratio, we just need to do a little math.

Dividing the ant population by the human population will give you an ant to human ratio of about 1.2 billion. This means for every human there are 1,200,000,000 ants. This just shows that the ant population is far vaster than we can imagine.

Keep in mind that these figures are just calculated estimates. However, you don’t expect anybody to manually count all the ants on earth. That’s just nuts.

How Much Does an Ant Weigh?

Ants are such small insects. However, their size and weight vary depending on the specie. The length of an ant could be as small as 2mm, which is 1/16 of an inch. The mean weight of a worker ant is anywhere from 1 to 5 mg (2.2 x 10^-6 to 1.1 x 10^-5 pounds). That’s how microscopic the weight of an ant can be.

How Long Have Ants Existed?

Scientists have been trying to figure out how many years ants have been living on earth. The origin of ants is still a subject of continuously evolving research. Different studies have found ant fossils that date back millions of years back.

According to Harvard University research, ants originated 140 million to 168 million years ago. This is contrary to what was believed. The same study estimated that ant diversification started approximately 100 million years ago. The subfamily Leptanillinae was found to be the most ancient.

9 Fun Facts about Ants

ants crawling on the soil

Fact #1: Ants can survive underwater for a whole day

Ants, like any other insects, depend on oxygen for survival. Hence, when their nest is flooded with water, they might get drowned. However, this is not the case for all ants.

Ants from the genus Formica can survive underwater. As a matter of fact, they can survive up to two weeks after being submerged in water. How is this possible?

When these specific ants are submerged in water, their body enters a hibernation-like state where their oxygen requirement is drastically reduced to about 20%. This helps them stay for long underwater.

Fact #2: Ants do not have lungs

You now wonder, how do they stay alive? Well, unlike us humans, ants do not have lungs rather oxygen enters their body through small openings on their thorax. These openings are referred to as spiracles.

Ants may have anywhere from 8 – 10 spiracles depending on the species. These spiracles allow the exchange of gasses by being the passage through which oxygen enters the body while carbon (iv) oxide leaves.

On entry into the body, oxygen is able to reach every part of the body by going through respiratory ducts called tracheal tubules. Oh well, it is obvious that the insides of an ant are quite different from that of a human.

Fact #3: The largest discovered ant is a whopping 2.5 inches long

Titanomyrma Giganteum is a species of ant that was discovered many years ago through the analysis of fossils. While its existence has been confirmed, this specie of ants has gone extinct and is no longer in existence.

The study of discovered fossils showed that these bugs can grow up to 2.5 inches long. That’s monstrous for an ant. It would be a disaster if your home is invaded by such ants.

On the other hand, natural selection did not seem to favour the species as they are now extinct.

Fact #4: Ants communicate with chemicals

Ants are social insects as we have said, therefore there is bound to be some form of communication between the ants in a colony. Communication is efficiently carried out between ants by using a chemical called pheromone.

Pheromones can be used to signify other ants in different situations. This chemical can be used to alert other ants of impending danger or the location of food. It is safe to say that ants talk using pheromones.

Fact #5: Ants are able to carry objects 10x their weight

If you are observant, you have probably seen ants carry objects that are way bigger than them. This might look like no big feat to you because both the ant and the object it is carrying are very small. However, to put this into perspective, try carrying an object that is triple your weight. Can you see what I’m getting at?

These bugs are quite strong to be able to do that. This allows them to effectively stock up on food for the winter seasons. Some species like the Asian weaver ant are known to be able to carry 100x their weight. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me.

Fact #6: Ants can live for long

Insects are known to live short lives. However, ants can live up to a decade or more, especially queens. A study by Boris H. Kramer was able to estimate the lifespan of a queen black garden ant (Lasius Niger). This laboratory experiment found that the queen black garden ant survived up to 28 years. That’s almost three decades!

However, worker ants are known to live a much shorter life compared to the queen. This can range from 300 to 1000 days.

Fact #7: Ants have two stomachs

There is a high chance you did not know this. Ants have two stomachs, a real and a crop stomach. The real stomach works like yours and mine, to digest the food they eat. However, the crop stomach is used to store food to feed other ants that stay with the queen. It is also called the social stomach.

These stomachs are situated in the abdomen of the ants and separated with a one-way valve. This prevents backflow. Some species have highly expandable crop stomachs and can serve as living food storage. The stored food can last months for the colony.

Fact #8: Bullet ants have the most painful sting

Some ants possess stingers and strike when they are disturbed or feel threatened. Of them all, the bullet ant has been deemed to have the most painful sting. It has been described as pure, intense and brilliant, like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail embedded in your heel.

A tribe in the Amazon rainforest uses this ant to initiate boys into adulthood. According to their chief, a life without suffering is not worth living. See the video of the ritual below.

Fact #9: Male ants are just flying sperm

Male ants have wings and their only role is to mate with the queen. Male ants develop from unfertilized eggs and die after mating with the queen. However, the queen keeps using their sperm to fertilize eggs for as long as possible.

In essence, male ants live only for reproduction.

Conclusion [How Many Ants are in the World?]

Ants are quite adaptive and successful insects that have been around for millions of years. They are prolific and easily form colonies. Ants are social insects that communicate with pheromones to avert danger or locate food.

As for the number, there are about ten quintillion ants on this planet. That’s indeed a big number.

FAQs

How many ants die in a day?

Trillions to quadrillion of ants die per day. However, this does not affect their population drastically because ants are prolific.

What is the deadliest ant?

The bulldog ant has been recognized by scientists as the most deadliest and dangerous ant. Its venom can kill an adult in 15 minutes.

How many ants would lift a human?

Ants weigh about 1/16 pounds. Therefore it will take several hundred ants to lift a human.