Most of the time when we talk about ants here at Good News Pest Solutions, we’re not showing them in a particularly good light. But like all God’s creatures, ants have a place and a purpose in our ecostructure that cannot be denied or deleted. Sometimes God creates small insects with big super powers. For the ant, it’s their sense of smell.
Even more than your trusty bloodhound, ants have a keen, high-definition sense of smell. Scientists tell us that they have four to five times the odor receptors of the average insect. To put that into perspective, a honey bee has 174 odor receptors – ants have more than 400.
High Organizational Skills
For years, we believed that ants used the odor receptors in their antennae to detect friend from foe. And they do do that – but they can do far more. Entomologists now believe that the very social nature of an ant colony is built around and organized by smell.
If you’ve ever been to a wine tasting, you might be impressed by the sommelier’s ability to catch the earthy tones and citrusy-tint of a particular pinot or sauvignon. But ants will put those upturned noses to shame.
Ants can detect even the minutest chemical changes. A 2015 study found that Camponotus floridanus ants can smell the difference between regular H2O water and the added carbon of sugar water. The smallest change in hydrocarbons sent the finer ants looking for a real treat. Some ants can even tell the difference from 3-4 feet away!
Sniff for a Cure
And while ant olfactory capabilities pale in comparison with the 220-million odor receptors a dog has, ants are far more refined and detail oriented. For example, a team of researchers taught ants to detect the smell of cancer cells! Again, we go back to the dogs – well trained dogs can sniff out lung cancer an astonishing 97% of the time. But it takes weeks if not months to properly train dogs. The scientists in this study trained a colony of Formica fusca ants in just THIRTY MINUTES.
The researchers then went back and diversified the ants – training half to detect a specific type of breast cancer and the others a different type. Both were successful and will lead to more detailed research. The scientists pointed out that while the ants can detect the smell of cancer cells grown in a lab, the inside of the human body is much more complicated. The ants aren’t ready to be deployed yet for medical purposes, but the researchers are hopeful, more so because of the short learning curve.
Of course, that doesn’t make a whole lot of difference when you’re finding ants in your garage or pantry. In those instances it’s okay to want the industrious insects out of your hair, regardless of what Solomon wrote.
Thankfully, our top solution – Go Green Perimeter Plus – handles ants, cockroaches, and most of the creepy crawlies we find around the Gulf Coast of Florida. We do it safely and at an affordable price. For the complete breakdown or to schedule your first appointment, just give us a call!
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