A highly unusual ant colony in Poland has been documented in a recently published study at Science Daily. The population lives in an old bunker that was used to house nuclear weapons. Scientists found the insects in 2013 while trying to locate bats in the area. A team determined that they were falling into the underground chamber because the primary colony had built its large mound over a corroded pipe leading down into the storage space.
During later visits, researchers noticed the ants were increasing in numbers despite the inhospitable conditions in the bunker; it is small at just under 10 feet by 4 feet, cold at a maximum temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and without noticeable sources of food or light. The team also estimated that there could be as many as two million ant corpses in the space with no evidence of a queen or other reproductive activity among the living members. Based on this evidence, researchers have concluded that “the mortality has been more than compensated by new workers that fall down during the active season of the free-living colony outside.” They believe the current number of active ants is likely in the high six figures.