New Research– Ants Have Sense of Smell Five Times Higher Than Most Insects

Description: This image shows a Carpenter ant ...

New Research on Ant Odor Receptors

A new study published in the journal of PLoS Genetics, conducted at Vanderbilt University, reveals that ant’s odor receptors are four to five times higher then most insects. The research team, headed by Lawrence Zwiebel, just finished an initial full map of the olfactory system, which supplies ants with their sense of taste and smell. This initial map proves that theses hard-working ants have genes that make 400 distinct odorant receptors. Odorant receptors are unique proteins that distinguish different odors. Comparing the ant’s 400 odorant receptors to other insects, silk moths have 52 receptors, fruit flies have 61, mosquitoes have 158, and honeybees have 174.

“The most exciting moment for me was when the analysis came back showing that we had identified more than 400 OR genes, the largest number of any known insect species,” Xiaofan Zhou, the research associate who headed up the characterization process, said.

“It meant that we had successfully taken the first step toward gaining a new level of understanding of the complex social system that has made ants one of the most successful families on the planet.”

What it Means for Pest Control Operators

Pest control operators have long been interested in learning more about the ants’ capacity to structure extremely ordered colonies with their distribution of labor, their communication among individual ants, and their aptitude to solve intricate problems.

For a while, scientists have also recognized that chemical communication plays a significant function in ant behavior. Laurence Zwiebel, the professor who directed the new study, said:

“So it’s a reasonable supposition that this dramatic expansion in odor-sensing capability is what allowed ants to develop such a high level of social organization.”

(Solenopsis invicta) This photo shows a colony...

A Growing Understanding of Ant Communication

This new research combined with the new research from Stanford University, which I wrote about here, are shaping how we understand ant communication. Ants also use their own type of internet, or “anternet,” for decision making inside the nest. Ant colonies are able to determine how many foragers need to be sent out by using a protocol system that is similar to the one IT professionals use to find out how much bandwidth is accessible on the internet.

The Amazing Ant

These new findings about ant odor-receptors, combined with the new findings on an ant internet, prove once more that ants are quite amazing creatures. They continue to surprise us all with their capabilities. Working together as a collective, they are capable of performing remarkably complicated responsibilities. As they continue to evolve, these ants may continue to teach our society more and more about network systems.


Source: ANI News


Anthony Ball is a Content Marketing Manager with Bulwark Exterminating, an industry leader in providing high quality pest control service. Bulwark is fully operational in nine states, including thirteen major cities. While Bulwark provides pest extermination for common pests like ants, roaches, crickets and spiders; the company's differentiating aspect is great personalized service. Bulwark uses the finest and most effective products in the world to solve common pest problems.

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