Earth's ant population of 20 quadrillion outnumbers humans by 2.5 million times, study says
To say that ants outnumber people on Earth would be a gross understatement.
To say that ants outnumber people on Earth would be a gross understatement. According to a new study, there are estimated to be 2.5 million times more ants on this planet than people.
In total, that's 20 quadrillion — or 20,000,000,000,000,000 — ants.
A team of researchers from Australia, Germany and Hong Kong analyzed 489 studies that gathered data on ground- and tree-dwelling ants in different habitats across all continents to come up with the mind-bending estimate. The research could help scientists understand the role that ants play in ecosystems and provide a way to assess how these insects and others are affected by threats such as climate change.
"Our results provide a crucial baseline for exploring environmental drivers of ant-abundance patterns and for tracking the responses of insects to environmental change," the scientists wrote in the study, which was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study also estimated that the total mass of ants on the planet works out to roughly 12 megatons of dry carbon, a huge sum that hints at their ubiquity, said Mark Wong, a Forrest Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia.