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Ants Identify Members of Society By Sense of Smell


A new study published suggests that ants use their powerful sense of smell to identify the different members of their society, Uncover Michigan reports.

The study was conducted by UC Riverside researchers, led by Dr. Anandasankar Ray. The researchers tested the hydrocarbons present on the outer shells of the worker ants and cuticles of the queen ants using the electrophysiology method.

"We used electrophysiology to investigate the detection of cuticular hydrocarbons by female-specific olfactory sensilla basiconica on the antenna of Florida capenter ants (Camponotus floridanus) ," the researchers said, Sci-News reports.

The study found that ants use their sense of smell to sense the chemicals present on the cuticles or outer shell of ants to differentiate members of their society from non- nestmates.

In the recently published research report, Dr. Ray said, "Using this amazing high-definition ability to smell ant body odor, the ants can recognize the various castes in the colony as well as intruders from another colony. This broad-spectrum ability to detect hydrocarbons is unusual and is probably a special property of social insects."

The researchers also concluded that pheromones not only act as chemical barcodes used by ants to identify members of their society but also to recognize the status of other ants as workers or queens.

"Perhaps ants are brainier than we've given them credit for," the scientists concluded, reports Sci-News.

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