Insects have always been portrayed as mindless creepy crawlies with a knack for snacking on humans. However, the ones on this list have other motives in mind. These team players have worked together as a cohesive unit to build some of the world's most significant non-man-made structures. The sheer size of the colonies that these tiny land dwellers have built is stunning. From Japan to Utah, the territories that made this list are marvels of construction in the animal world.
4. Utah Beehive
While it is unofficial, no other beehive has matched the size of this one found in Eden, Utah. The sound alone, when approached, must have been deafening.
The beehive was found in 1996 in a family cabin that was rarely used. Since it was not occupied frequently, the owners did not see a reason to destroy the hive. This is where they went wrong; instead of nipping the problem in the bud and relocating or dismantling the hive, they let it continue to grow.
Years later, when the family opted to use the cabin more frequently, they saw just how out of hand the problem had gotten. When taken from its source, the beehive measured twelve feet long, four feet wide, and a foot and a half deep.
Scientists compared the weight of the hive to the weight of bees and concluded that the fifteen-pound hive contained as many as 60,000 honeybees. The giant hive is a sign to anyone that owns an infrequently used cabin; check for bees.
3. Hokkaido, Japan Redwood Ant Colony
This redwood ant colony has been estimated to have an origin that began over a thousand years ago; given that amount of time and the tireless effort of ants, did you expect something diminutive?
On the coastline of Japan resides one of the remnants of a commonwealth of unprecedented size in the animal kingdom. Considered a super colony, at its peak, this conglomerate of insect nests housed over 1.1 million queens and over 300 million worker ants.
The mini megalithic collection of nests numbered in the tens of thousands, an estimated 45,000 to be exact. The entire expansion stretched nearly 670 acres across the Japanese coastline.
The amount of redwood ants that call the nest home has been depleted, but there are still hundreds of thousands of ants that still reside in the ancient colony.
2. Brazilian Termite Mounds
If you thought the size of the Japanese redwood ant colony was mind-blowing, the next settlement is out of this world, so big, in fact, it can be seen from space.
These Brazilian termite mounds are from a single species of termite and can be seen from satellites in space. The mounds measure about eight feet high and as much as 30 feet across. It may seem like an architectural feat to the naked eye, but just imagine the extent of what has been constructed underground.
The mounds themselves have been dated to being over four thousand years old. The mounds are not nests themselves but are made up of more than two cubic miles of dirt excavated from underground. The piles are an accumulation of dirt and waste produced by the staggering number of termites underfoot.
These networks of tunnels and mounds are bigger than the landmass of Great Britain and older than many cultures that reside on it too. These stats bring the famous Brazilian termite mounds in at number two on our list.
1. Southern Europe Argentine Ant Super Colony
The number one largest insect colony in the world is nearly the size of all the other colonies on this list combined.
This Guinness Book World Record holder stretches 3728 miles long, ranging from Italy across the ENTIRE south Atlantic coast of Spain. The community is so big it would need a passport as it extends through multiple countries.
This colony is made of multiple millions of ant nests and hosts a population estimated to be over a billion worker ants with untold millions of queens. The size is staggering, but the reason that this colony was able to expand so far is puzzling.
Ants are usually aggressive to other ants when it comes to food or nest building. However, this super colony shares enough genetic DNA with each other that they will not be aggressive to other ants even if they have never seen or met them before. Some ants will even gather food for a queen that is not theirs.
This means that an ant could hypothetically travel from the southern tip of Spain all the way across the country into Italy and would still be welcomed with open arms. This type of camaraderie is what allowed the massive Southern Europe Argentine ant empire to thrive for thousands of miles.
Each of these colonies is an extremely impressive accomplishment in its own right, but none can compare to the Southern Europe Argentine Ant Super Colony, the largest in the world and number one on our list.