How Much Do All the Ants in the World Weigh?
Thousands of scientists have weighed the ants on Earth and calculated their numbers. One study estimates there are about 20 quadrillion ants. This number is two to twenty times higher than previous estimates. However, this may be conservative.
According to the study, all the ants on Earth weigh a total of about 12 million tonnes of dry carbon. That is more than the combined biomass of wild birds and mammals.
The researchers calculated the number of ants on the Earth by examining 489 studies on ant populations from all continents. They then compiled all the data into a database. Various species were considered, including tree-dwelling and ground-dwelling ants. The researchers also used standard methods to count ants. These include pitfall traps, leaf litter samples, and ant-inhabited continents.
Ants are found almost everywhere on the planet. Their populations are particularly abundant in forests and arid regions.
Ants can lift three times their body weight. They can also dangle while holding 100 times their own weight. Among the species, queen ants can live for decades.
A recent BBC Four documentary estimates the number of ants on the planet at 100 trillion. According to the researchers, the weight of all the ants on the Earth is about the same as the weight of all humans on the planet.
The study also estimates that the ants on Earth weigh about a fifth of the biomass of humans. It is estimated that the total biomass of humans is about 60 million tonnes.