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  #1  
Old 05-09-2006, 09:47 AM
Strinka Strinka is offline
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What accounts for the smell of crushed ants?

What accounts for the smell of crushed ants?

I found this very interesting. Good job Doug!
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2006, 12:19 PM
SiXSwordS SiXSwordS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strinka
I found this very interesting. Good job Doug!
Agreed! However-- and I'm not sure if I should start a new thread for this-- there is one thing I wonder about....
Quote:
It's as though human sweat contained Lysol. If we were as chemical-covered and germ-free as the average ant, we'd all live longer, healthier lives.
Considering that:
Quote:
Bacteria and other microorganisms that cause infections are remarkably resilient and can develop ways to survive drugs meant to kill or weaken them.
Why is this not the case for ants? Do they constatntly change their chemical arsenal?

And, if humans had Lysol-ish sweat ( wouldn't nuetra-air flatus be nice?) wouldn't our relative inability to evolve new defenses make it useless pretty quickly?

This isn't really a comment on the column as a whole. I'm pretty sure the quote above was thrown in as a closer. But it made me think... always a dangerous proposition!
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Old 05-09-2006, 01:15 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Well, things don't generally evolve resistance to Lysol, but I doubt that ant secretions are quite like Lysol. The thing is, there's two types of anti-microbe substances. On the one hand, you have things like Lysol, which kill just about anything. These can be really, really effective, and are very hard for anything to develop a resistance to. But Lysol would also kill ants, and I don't think that ants are secreting things that would kill themselves, too.

If you only want to kill some things (like germs), but not others (like yourself), that's a much trickier problem. There do exist some substances which selectively kill off some types of critters but not others, but for these, in general, it is possible to evolve resistance (since after all, the "good" critters are able to resist it).

Which doesn't really shed much light on what the ants are doing, since whatever it is apparently doesn't kill the ants and yet remains effective against the germs. So I'll have to wait for Doug on that part, too.
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Old 05-09-2006, 01:20 PM
scabpicker scabpicker is offline
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Who knew that the smell of fear and death was lemony fresh? Comforting thoughts, in these times.
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Old 05-09-2006, 06:38 PM
PetW PetW is offline
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Crushing large quantities of ants is actually how they produce Pine-Sol
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  #6  
Old 05-09-2006, 07:34 PM
jim buchanan jim buchanan is offline
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squashed ants

How about formic acid? It is strong smelling. It can be distilled from ants and its name comes from the Latin word for ant.
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Old 05-10-2006, 10:13 AM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scabpicker
Who knew that the smell of fear and death was lemony fresh?
Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the scent of Pledge blows in our nose,
Then imitate the action of the chamois...
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  #8  
Old 05-10-2006, 12:01 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is online now
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I for one welcome our lemony-fresh overlords.
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  #9  
Old 05-10-2006, 02:32 PM
ShortBus ShortBus is offline
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And yet no mention of the fact that ants also taste lemony. Though, I only recommend eating the little brown ones. The larger black ones aren't quite as good and have a funny aftertaste.
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Old 05-10-2006, 04:01 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShortBus
I only recommend eating the little brown ones.
Thus quoth ShortBus.
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  #11  
Old 05-10-2006, 11:32 PM
PetW PetW is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShortBus
And yet no mention of the fact that ants also taste lemony. Though, I only recommend eating the little brown ones. The larger black ones aren't quite as good and have a funny aftertaste.
Are you serious about this?
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  #12  
Old 05-11-2006, 02:46 AM
winnower winnower is offline
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Ant-odor perfume

Some years ago (13 or more) my father and I worked together at his consulting firm. One day a very young company rep came in for an appointment with another member of the firm. Dad and I were aghast at how she smelled - exactly like crushed ants (the little brown ones). Her perfume was the source of the smell. Several times since then I've smelled the same perfume on a woman, but not for many years. Who in the heck would produce such a scent as that for people to wear as an accessory? Yikes!
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  #13  
Old 05-12-2006, 03:28 PM
jimbobboy jimbobboy is offline
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Or, to quote a great entomologist:

The Ant
by Ogden Nash

The ant has made himself illustrious
Through constant industry industrious.
So what?
Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?
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