Why Can You Smell Ants?

Besides using their antennae to sense the presence of food, ants can also smell. The odors they produce are used to communicate with other ants. They can also be used as a means to warn predators.

Ants are highly olfactory, meaning that they are able to smell a wide variety of materials. They also have ten glands in their bodies, which produce different chemicals. These chemicals are called terpenes. Terpenes are chemicals used by ants to repel predators. Terpenes also help them communicate with each other. They are also used to leave pheromone trails, which help ants find their way back to their nests.

Ants can also detect the presence of dead ants. They can smell the chemicals released by these dead ants. Some ant species release pungent odors when they are threatened. These chemicals are usually released to help protect the colony from possible predators.

When an ant is threatened, it releases a chemical called formic acid. This chemical is odorous and smells like vinegar. It is also used by aggressive carpenter ants as a defense mechanism. The smell makes predators distasteful.

In addition to formic acid, ants also release odors called oleic acid. The smell of oleic acid is much more distinctive than the smell of formic acid. Approximately 90% of all ants release oleic acid when they die.

However, some people can’t smell formic acid. This is thought to be a genetic trait. Others believe that they can’t smell formic acid because they don’t have the gene.