Abstract This paper presents a novel feature extraction method for remote sensing imagery based on the cooperation of multiple ant colonies. First, multiresolution expression of the input remote sensing imagery is created, and two different ant colonies are spread on different resolution images. The ant colony in the low-resolution image uses phase congruency as the inspiration information, whereas that in the high-resolution image uses gradient magnitude. The two ant colonies cooperate to detect features in the image by sharing the same pheromone matrix. Finally, the image features are extracted on the basis of the pheromone matrix threshold. Because a substantial amount of information in the input image is used as inspiration information of the ant colonies, the proposed method shows higher intelligence and acquires more complete and meaningful image features than those of other simple edge detectors.