Number of Ants in the World

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
McGavin, George C. Smithsonian Institution's Animal. 2001: 576. "Occurrence: 9,000 spp. worldwide; in virtually all regions except in Antarctica and on a few oceanic islands." 9,000 species
Encyclopedia Britannica. 1993: 437. "ant, any member of the approximately 8,000 species of the insect family Formicidae (order hymenoptera)." 8,000 species
Holldobbler, Bert & Edward O. Wilson. Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration. 1994 "only 13,000 species of highly social insects are known (9,500 of which are ants" 9,500 species
Embery, Joan with Ed Lucaire. Collection of Amazing Animal Facts. 1983. "Scientists estimate that there are one quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) ants living on the earth at any given time." one quadrillion ants
Bug Info. Encyclopedia Smithsonian. National Museum of Natural History. "There are more than 8,000 species of ants in the world." > 8,000 species

Ants are known as busy insects that are always organizing into little farms and colonies but there's more to them than just that. They can keep down other insects that can be pests to humans, gather seed plants, and store them underground for food. On the other hand, they can be quite annoying and will search for food where humans are and even bite or sting.

Ants belong to a family called the Formicidae and are close relatives to the bees, wasps, and hornets. All ants have a basic structure and are divided into three parts: the head, the stomach, and the thorax, which lies between the head and the abdomen.

They are found almost everywhere in the world, except in the coldest regions. They tend to be found in tropical forests and in areas where there is sweet food, whether it be flowers, plants, or fruits.

Ants are called socials insects because they live together in colonies that can contain from a dozen ants to thousands of ants. It usually depends on the species and they generally work and live together. Out of 8,000 species, there are thief ants, slave ants, and even "pet" ants, where they allow the guest insects to go into their nests and take care of them. They may even be the most numerous of all the insects. For example, in the Amazon rain forest, there are over 3,500,000 ants per acre. One source estimates that there are nearly one quadrillion ants in the world.

Alison Ongvorapong -- 2003


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