Scientific calculation (stock image)
Scientific calculation (stock image) iStock

For a long time scientists have attempted to calculate just how many ants live on planet Earth.

But counting ants is not an easy task, as one can imagine.

According to, six scientists have finally found a way to calculate an accurate answer to this age old question.

Their estimate is that there are 20 quadrillion ants on Earth today.

The number is equal to 12 megatons of biomass – a larger amount of matter that every bird and mammal on Earth combined.

To figure out the number, the scientists delved into 12,000 articles in multiple databases in many languages from across the world. They looked at 489 studies that used scientifically valid methods of sampling and counting ants, mostly while studying ants for biodiversity and evolution purposes.

The team discovered that ant populations were the largest in tropical regions, especially in moist forests and savannas.

The new estimate is 2 to 20 times greater than previously thought, the team wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

Until now, while there were studies on the worldwide distribution of ants, there was no accurate estimate of the population of ants on the planet.