Why Do Ants Release a Smell?

Whether you are a fan of ants or not, you’ve probably heard about the ant’s ability to release a smell when in danger. There are many species of ants that give off a nasty odor when they are in danger, and many of them have a pungent smell when they are crushed.

Some people have a hard time smelling the odor, while others can smell it perfectly well. One recent study looked at two species of ants and compared the chemicals that make up the smells of both living and dead ants. The researchers analyzed the volatile compounds released into the air by each species. The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ants use smells to communicate with other ants, to communicate their status in the colony, and to signal danger. Ants also use scent to alert other ants of the quality of their food sources. These pheromones can be used to distinguish between members of a colony, such as the queen from the workers.

A recent study looked at two different species of ants and examined how they use scents to communicate. One team looked at Indian jumping ants, while the other studied Florida carpenter ants.

The team discovered that ants produce a chemical called oleic acid. This chemical smells like olive oil and is produced by most ants as a defense mechanism when they are killed. It is also used by ants to alert other ants of the death of a prey item.