My daughter expressed frustration over constantly battling ants in her house. I told her even if you destroy a colony, there are always more. How many? I said, I don’t know, maybe a billion on your small lot. I was totally making that up. But now there’s a real study on how many ants there are in the world. Mark Wong had a goal to count all the ants, but he didn’t do it by himself. He surveyed 489 studies of ant populations from around the world, and extrapolating the information he came up with 20 quadrillion, give or take a few. That’s 20,000,000,000,000,000.
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“We further estimate that the world’s ants collectively constitute about 12 megatons of dry carbon,” said Wong, an ecologist at the University of Western Australia’s School of Biological Sciences. “Impressively, this exceeds the biomass of all the world’s wild birds and mammals combined.”
That’s a lot of ants, and Wong believes it might be an undercount. But it’s important to know, because ants, as annoying as they may be to humans, are environmental engineers that make a real difference in their ecosystems. Read what ants contribute to the earth and why it’s important to keep up with them at Cnet. -via Damn Interesting
(Image credit: Zainichi Gaikokujin)