Ants & Their Exceptional Sense of Smell

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Ants And Their Exceptional Sense of Smell

In our environment there are many species of insects which we call pests, but they are natural wanders of our surroundings. One type of this exceptional creatures are ants. They have many features which surpass what we normally know and that can change the way that we think about them. Ants in specific have one of the most advanced olfactory systems of all species. They can have 10 times more odor receptors than other insects, roughly around 400 distinct odor receptors, silk moths have only 52. This is the largest number of Odorant receptor genes ever found on any species. It plays a major role in the high level of social organization that they normally have, using their sensitive antennae instead of noses, they can even smell and sense when intruders from other colonies are attacking their area. The antennae of ants have hair-like sensilla that contain multiple sensory neurons and Most of the sensilla contains olfactory neurons.

A research team led by Lawrence Zwiebel at Vanderbilt have performed multiple research projects in 2012 and 2017. “Ants see their world through their nose, their antennae. If you’re an ant, you view others by their smell and others view you by your smell,” said Laurence Zwiebel, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Biological Sciences, who is studying the molecular basis of ant olfaction. This acute sense of smell is directly connected to the nervous system and the brain to quickly analyze and find food, a path back to the colony, a partner or just about anything they need. This and other tasks are easily done when they combine it with the trail of pheromones that they leave behind. Another great advantage from this is that it allows them to detect repellent pest control chemicals more easily and from further away. For this reason, ants are one of the most problematic pests to control by DIY home owners, and another one why it is best to use professional pest control services like ours. Imagine if Desert ants can smell dry biscuit crumbs from up to 3 meters, from how far out can they smell your candies and other food you might have out.

As with the great majority of species, each sex has its own distinctive sensatory features. Males have only about one third the number of receptors compare to its female counterpart. “The primary role of males is fertilization of eggs, so we assume that the ORs that males express and that females don’t are probably tuned to pheromones produced by the queen,” Xiaofan Zhou, the research associate who headed up the characterization process.

As you can see Ants in general are very well adapted to cope with the urban boom, and they are not going anywhere. If you are having problems in your house or commercial property make sure to clean all surfaces and to not leave any food unprotected outside, and most importantly give us a call at (619) 421 – 2101 or contact us online so that a professional and licensed pest control specialist can address your specific situation with the most effective solution.


Gilberto A. Cortez
California Licensed Operator and Contractor

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