If you've ever wondered how many ants live on Earth, we now have the answer

We share this planet with a very, very, very large number of ants. You’ve probably never thought about how many of the little creatures scuttle around beneath our

feet but, apparently, scientists have. Boffins have tackled the creepy crawly query and come up with a mind-boggling conclusion: Turns out there are

20,000,000,000,000,000 (20 with fifteen zeroes) ants on the planet. Or rather, a quadrillion ants. To put it another way: there are 2.5 million ants for every person on

Earth. And that’s a conservative estimate. ‘Integrating data from all continents and major biomes, we conservatively estimate 20 × 1015 (20 quadrillion) ants

on Earth, with a total biomass of 12 megatons of dry carbon,’ explained scientists from the Insect Biodiversity and Biogeography Laboratory at the University of Hong Kong

(HKU) In a recent publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) they explain: ‘The astounding ubiquity of ants has prompted

many naturalists to contemplate their exact number on Earth, but systematic and empirically derived estimates are lacking. ‘This exceeds the combined biomass of wild

birds and mammals and equals 20% of human biomass.’ A HKU spokesperson said: ‘While these questions may appear trivial at first, they have enormous implications for our

understanding of natural processes since ants are such key players in most ecosystems and have numerous and complex interactions with other organisms.’ Dr Patrick

Schultheiss, a lead author of the new study explained: ‘For decades, ant researchers have been incredibly busy studying ant communities the world over.