Can You Smell Ants? Kentucky Woman Notices Strange ‘Superpower’
Confession time! Yesterday I was picking up the kitchen and noticed a trail of ants marching from the windowsill to a Cutie in the fruit basket that had started to become a science experiment. As I wiped them away, I was reminded of their unique scent.
I polled my book club ladies to see if any of them have ever been able to smell these pesky summer pests. Most of them didn't have a clue what I was talking about and my best friend of all people called me a weirdo! How rude, can you believe that? Just kidding, she's not wrong. Rollins looked at me like I had lost my marbles when I asked him if he knew what ants smell like. He was also salty that I had been killing ants.
Ants Communicate With Smells
Like many living things, ants give off pheromones to communicate with each other. They have scent receptors in their tiny antenna to pick up on what their little pals put down. Popular Science says, "Many common species of ants release pungent smells when they are in danger, squished, or otherwise dead, according to Clint Penick, an assistant professor at Kennesaw State University and ant researcher." This lets the other ants know to beware. It can also be a defense mechanism to ward off predators. In some species like Carpenter ants, these aromas can contain formic acid which can actually cause burns.
What do Ants Smell Like?
Different types of ants give off an array of scents. From stinky to sweet, we first have the most common in our area, the Odorous House Ant. It gives off what is described as a blue cheese scent, but I would classify it more as a coconut that's gone bad. Citronella ants are appropriately named because they give off a sweet citrus smell. Some say they even taste like lemon, but that is a science experiment I am not ready for. Trap jaw ants which I had never even heard of are known to smell like chocolate. So wild!
So Why Can Some People Smell Ants?
Like the controversial "cilantro tastes like soap" discussion, or asparagus' special quality, the ability to smell ants leaves folks divided. From what I've been able to find, it is not common for humans to be able to smell ants. Not a lot is known about this strange "superpower," but according to Live Science, they do know that it is a genetic mutation of sorts. It's also possible that people just don't notice as they may not be a weirdo like me who pays attention to things like this. What about you? Have you ever noticed what ants smell like?