Almost 10,000 to 12,000 species of ants are present globally, and still, some are not recognized and described by scientists.
Environmental conditions determine the existence of ants on different continents as they prefer to live in moist areas with a food source in close proximity.
Are Ants on Every Continent? Ants are present on almost every continent due to their large population and better adaptations to varying environments. However, Antarctica, Greenland, and Iceland have no ants due to cold temperatures, unsuitable habitats, unavailability of food, and absence of trees. Furthermore, Australia holds a large number of ants compared to other countries due to better living conditions.
Ant colonies vary in size depending on the species, as some contain only hundreds of members, while a few have millions of members extended to a large area on the ground.
There is always a whole colony behind a single ant when you see it roaming in your house, so these tiny creatures have covered almost every single spot on Earth.
How many ants are present in the world?
Ants are tiny insects roaming every possible place, including indoor and outdoor areas, in search of suitable habitats and food.
Almost every continent in this world contains these tiny creatures, and are originated millions of years ago. It is estimated that these insects appeared on Earth nearly 150 million years ago.
It is assumed that they have lived together with dinosaurs for some time, but the dinosaurs became extinct as they could not survive severe environmental changes.
However, these insects have evolved themselves and adapted to modern environmental conditions; that’s why they have managed to survive till now.
According to estimations, almost 8,000 to 10,000 trillion ants are present in the world, meaning the human population is comparatively smaller and is only 7 to 8 billion.
Furthermore, it means around 1.2 million ants are there for every person on this planet. You can find more than 12,000 species of ants with varying morphologies and behavioral patterns.
Which continent does not have ants?
Ants have occupied almost every single corner of this planet where they can find a safe place to live, having a suitable environment, and plenty of food.
These tiny creatures live in continents like Asia, Europe, Africa, and North and South America. In addition, many of these insects are also found in Australia, as the northern region provides a warm climate.
However, they do not exist in the Antarctica continent as they cannot adapt to their environmental conditions and prefer to live in other regions.
In addition, these crawling insects are not native to islands like Greenland and Iceland, but a few people have brought their colonies there as non-native species.
Their distribution is mainly affected by habitat and temperature variations as these do not like icy and humid conditions.
The temperature in Iceland and Greenland peaks at around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit during summer and remains much colder in winter.
This temperature is not suitable for these insects as they can get frozen. Furthermore, ghost ants are only found in Iceland as non-native species.
Why are there no ants in Antarctica?
Ants are widely distributed to almost every continent and are ubiquitous, as these social insects are dominant species and are found everywhere.
Antarctica has a colder environment that is not suitable for land animals as they cannot survive at freezing temperatures; that’s why you cannot find native insects and animals there.
The seawater turns into ice during cold winters when the temperature reaches almost -5 to -75 degrees Fahrenheit at coastal areas and the South Pole.
This temperature is too cold for even humans as it becomes difficult to survive at extremely low temperatures, so ants cannot imagine spending even a single day there as their bodies get frozen.
Additionally, 96 to 98% of the area in Antarctica is covered with an ice sheet having a thickness equal to 1 to 2 miles and contains 85 to 90% of the total world’s ice.
The South Pole remains cold most of the year, as sunrise and sunset occur only once in September and March.
However, ants need a warm climate and non-humid conditions to survive; that’s why they cannot live and reproduce on this continent.
You cannot find spiders, roaches, beetles, moths, ladybugs, and even trees in this region, so they cannot get a food source and die of starvation.
Similarly, their predators do not prefer to build their nests in Antarctica due to the absence of shrubs and trees, as only two flowering plants, including hair grass and pearlwort, are present.
Only one native insect living in Antarctica is the Antarctic midge because it has adapted to cold conditions and has anti-freeze proteins in its body that prevent freezing and death.
So, it is challenging for tiny creatures to survive in cold environments as they have a risk of death due to extremely cold environments.
They need underground nests with multiple chambers to live and need food to meet their body energy requirement; that’s why they do not prefer this continent to live.
How do ants reach islands?
You cannot find native species of ants in islands like Hawaii, Greenland, Iceland, and many others islands because the land area is covered with water, and these insects cannot reach there.
However, some people have seen these insects crawling on the ground, which confirms their presence on islands, but it raises a question of how these insects have managed to reach there.
Accordingly, there are three possible mechanisms by which they can reach islands, including mating flights when the queens fly higher from their nest and land at a different spot.
In addition, there is a possibility of rafting or navigation over water that seems a bit illogical, like mating flights, because they cannot fly, swim or raft over a long distance.
However, the third mechanism is found to be logical; that is, human-assisted dispersal means humans have introduced them to islands.
Hawaii locals have brought more than 35 species of ants to an island in 150 to 200 years, which have destroyed the habitat of their native insects.
Which country has the most ants?
Australia has a large number of ants belonging to different species, and it has almost 3000 to 4000 species of these insects, including native and non-native ones.
You can find more than 80 species of bull ants in this country that are bigger, having reddish and orange-colored bodies.
In addition, fire ants have also invaded this region; they are aggressive species and cause a burning sensation after biting.
Ghost ants are commonly found in Australia or in its northern states remain warm most of the year compared to colder southern states.
Furthermore, it provides good humidity to these tiny creatures as they like to reproduce in moist and warm places.