The largest ant colony in the world is the Argentine Ant Supercolony. This spans 3,700 miles and is suspected to contain 307 million ants!
Ants are social creatures, living in very large ant colonies that they would surely die without. An average ant colony has around 20,000 to 100,000 ants inside it. But that’s just per colony, across the globe it is suspected that there are around 20,000,000,000,000,000 ants! That’s 2,500,000 ants for every human being. That’s an unfathomable amount of ants. There are around 300,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way, our universe. That means there are just under 67,000 times more ants than stars in the milky way.
Now that we’ve established the insane amount of ants there are across the globe, let’s talk about the single largest ant colony. As i said before, this is known as the Argentine Ant Supercolony. This gigantic collection of ants spans around 3,700 miles. Here’s an insane statistic for you; travelling from one end of the UK to the other would require an 823 mile journey. That means that the Argentine Ant Supercolony spans around four and a half United Kingdoms. It starts in the north of Italy and expends all the way to the south of France and right on to the western coast on Spain.
You may be wondering how on earth the Argentine ant ended up in Europe, rather than south America. That’s because in the 18th and 19th century, these little guys fancied themselves as sailors and stowed away on boats. They were carried all the way cross continentally and wound up in Europe. That’s where they started to expand into the astronomically large ant colony we see today.
Other ant facts
Ants are remarkable creatures with lots of interesting qualities. For example, depending on the species, ants are capable of lifting between 10 and 50 times their own body weight. Some species can actually lift almost 100 times their body weight!. This allows them to bring back any good food they find out scavenging back to the ant colony. An ant’s extreme strength is a very important evolutionary adaptation for them to have for this reason.
Some amazonian ants are capable of asexual reproduction. This means that instead of a male and female ant reproducing to produce an offspring with a combination of their genetic material. Instead of this, asexual reproduction involves one single creature creating an offspring with exactly the same genetic material; essentially, a clone. The queen (ruler of the ant colony) basically clones herself and creates a colony of entirely female ants, all with the same genes.
Ants typically live no longer than 1 or 2 years. However, ants as a species have been around for a long long time. They first appeared on earth during the cretaceous period about 130 million years ago. This means that they not only lived alongside dinosaurs but also survived the extinction event that wiped them all out. They then survived the global ice age. This shows the astounding resilience of ants; one of earth’s longest lasting species. Alligators and crocodiles get a lot of hype for being around so long, but where’s that love for the ants?!
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