Scientists have estimated the number of ants on Earth, which is “unbelievable,” said a study author.
According to the study, there are 20 quadrillion ants on Earth – 20 followed by 15 zeros.
That’s about 2.5 million ants per person.
It is estimated that 20 quadrillion ants roam the Earth, scientists estimate.
The astonishing number – 20,000,000,000,000,000 – means that there would be about 2.5 million ants per single human being today.
“It’s unimaginable,” Patrick Schultheiss, a lead author of the study, told The Washington Post. “For example, we can’t imagine 20 quadrillion ants in one pile. It just doesn’t work.”
The issue was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We estimate that 20 quadrillion average-sized ants correspond to a dry weight or ‘biomass’ of about 12 million tons of carbon,” the study authors said in a blog post.
That means that if all the ants were taken out of the ground and dried up, they would weigh more than all wild birds and wild mammals combined, according to the study.
They would also be about as heavy as about a fifth of the dry weight of all humans on Earth.
To arrive at the figure, scientists combed through 489 published studies examining the number of ants in a given environment.
It’s unclear whether this astronomical number has remained stable or has grown over time, Schultheiss told The Post. A 2019 study found that up to half of all insects in the world have disappeared since the 1970s, Insider previously reported.
But when it comes to ants, “we have no idea,” Schultheiss said.
With more than 12,500 known species, ants are present on almost every continent, according to Antmaps.org, a site that lists where ants have been spotted in the world.
An average ant colony can contain 250,000 individuals, Insider previously reported.
Ants are crucial to keeping our environment healthy, according to the Harvard Forest website.
They aerate the soil, allowing water and oxygen to reach the roots of plants. They move seeds around and take them to their tunnels, where they often sprout new plants.
They prey on pests and keep forests clean by eating rotting wood and other decaying materials. And they are an important food source for other animals, including sometimes humans.
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