The Largest Ant Colony In The World Is Comprised Of Which Ant Species?
Answer: Argentine Ants
Ants are colony animals and their colonies can be quite extensive. While we typically only notice ants when we see their small hills outside our homes (or worse, notice them crawling around inside), small ant hills are hardly indicative of the whole size of the colony. Sometimes the colony occupies the whole lot you’re standing on, sometimes it might stretch across the entire town you’re in, and in extreme cases colonies can span entire geographic regions.
In terms of industrious colony building, the Argentine ant has long held the title for the largest colonies. Prior to research conducted in 2009, it was already well known that Argentine ant colonies could be quite enormous. The three largest identified colonies were a European colony that stretched 3,700 miles along the Mediterranean sea, a 560 mile long colony along the coast of California in the United States, and another huge colony in Japan that stretched along the west coast of the island nation.
Those colonies in and of themselves dwarfed any other known colonies in the world, but what emerged from the aforementioned research was even more fascinating: members of each of the geographically separate super-colonies treated each other as friendly and they had similar chemical signatures and colony behaviors. In essence, despite being removed from each other by an ocean and time, the Argentine ants had never truly broken ties with their ancestors and the collective population across the three continents is now considered a mega-colony (or global super-colony) that, in terms of migration and size, is only rivaled by human civilization.
Image courtesy of Penarc.