The planet is pierced ants. This is a simple and imprecise statement. However, if we want to know how many there are in total, the problem becomes much more difficult. Logically, they cannot be counted one by one. Only estimates based on their proportion in relation to the rest of the insects remain. However, research by a group of scientists from University of Hong Kong went much further, arriving at a figure which, although very conservative, is considerably higher than estimates made so far.

To give a figure, they dedicated themselves to reviewing the scientific literature looking for studies that delve into the number of ants in different parts of the world. In total they analyzed 489 studiesheld on every continent, in a wide variety of ecosystems and with a wide variety of ant species.

Thus, they came to the conclusion that in the world there are at least 20 quadrillion ants. It’s 20 followed by fifteen zeros, so it’s a terrible number. And the truth is that this would be the lower limit of reality, because the studies they reviewed do not take into account the populations of ants that live in trees or underground. The figure could be much higher, and the truth is that we should be grateful for that, because ants are essential to maintaining ecosystems and the survival of other living things. Including ourselves.

Why are ants so important?

Ants are incredible animals. His ability to organize hierarchical populationseven with their own army, made them natural conquerors, so they can be found almost anywhere in the world.

This is a huge benefit as they help ecosystems a lot on many levels. On the one hand, when they dig their nests or just drill into the ground, they facilitate the access of oxygen and water to the roots of plants. In addition, they help move seeds from one place to another and even plant them as they move them underground to keep them in their pantries. All this even leads some plants to enslave themusing them to your advantage.

On the other hand, they are necessary for food chain, as they are the food of many other species. But, in turn, they are also predators of many insects, so they avoid overpopulation. Finally, they may face some pestsbeing more effective than pesticides.

In short, ants are all benefits. That is why it is so important that there are many of them and that these numbers are maintained despite the threats to which some species are exposed.

Much more than we thought

According to a study just published in PNASThere are 20 quadrillion ants in the world. But, in addition to this, these scientists also calculated what their weight is. It should be noted that weight is measured in dry carbon; which, in the case of ants, is about half of the total. The approximate figure obtained in this study is 12 million tons of dry carbon. This is more than all wild birds and mammals combined and a fifth of all people.

There are a lot of ants, that’s for sure. The problem is that while this is a conservative figure, it could fall soon if nothing is done to address it. And the fact is that many species of these insects are already in extinctionfor reasons ranging from changing of the climate before introduction of invasive species that prey on them or spread disease. In addition, the use of certain pesticides, overexploitation and pollution from human activities can put them at risk. It has even been observed that they can be greatly affected by the introduction of artificial lighting.

It is important to prevent this, although it is also logical that if the ants became a plague, it is necessary act against them. Therefore, it is recommended to prevent the formation of these pests. To do this, you need to follow simple tips, such as throwing out the garbage regularly, keeping the trash can closed, or not leaving food on the kitchen table, especially if it is sweet. Thus, we will prevent the plague, not fight it. And also in this way we will ensure that these 20 quadrillion ants do not invade our kitchen, but help save ecosystems. We do this for ourselves and for the planet.

Source: Hiper Textual

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