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Scientists estimated how many ants there are in Earth, and the number is staggering

Houston Zoo Bug House
Posted at 8:58 PM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 22:03:27-04

Ants are everywhere. And a new study has found that the number of ants living on Earth is quite astonishing.

Researchers published their data in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. They found that there are about 20 quadrillion ants on planet Earth, at any given time.

Sabine S. Nooten, an insect ecologist and temporary principal investigator at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said, "We were very surprised about the large number of ants we found," CNN reported.

"We virtually didn't have any expectations because the numbers which floated around beforehand in scientific literatures were basically educated guesses, and they had very little empirical data to work from," she said. "And, so, this is the novelty of our study because we synthesized the data from a lot of empirical studies."

Researchers said the 20 quadrillion number is "conservative" and said the total biomass of them all would equal about 12 megatons of dry carbon.

The study found that the distribution of ants is uneven across the continents. A higher number of ants are concentrated around the tropics, and the study found evidence that suggests ants can help with understanding baselines for predicting worrying environmental changes.

Scientists took into account 489 studies that spanned all of the continents on Earth.