Hello folks who wonder if the only time everyone will believe global warming is real is when rising temperatures are able to finally melt dollar store cheese slices,

Stop whatever you are doing right now and close your eyes. Wait, open them back, how will you read? Ok, now take a deep whiff after closing them. What do you smell?

The answers can be some food being cooked around you now, or your bad breath if you are wearing a face mask or your body odor if you are enjoying the quarantine a l'il too much or maybe the air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror. Whatever be the case, smells convey signals. Signals like it's time to take a shower, the food has gone bad, a delicious meal being cooked, or that someone has violated the 6ft social distancing rule because you can smell their armpits.

Ants use their antennae extensively for touching and smelling. They use them for finding food and also detecting if someone belongs to their group or not (think nutty sports fans who wear jerseys to signal their loyalty to a group). Every ant colony has a peculiar smell that is slightly different from the nearby colony. So instead of wearing the same uniform or having badges to show their allegiance, they sniff each other by touching their antennae on each other to detect if it's a sister or someone who is not their mister.

Below is a worker Winter Ant sniffing a suspicious fellow worker. It's all good, the other worker belonged to the same colony just suffering from a hangover.


Relying on their sense of smell alone for detecting objects can have its own set of drawbacks. Since most ants do not primarily use their eyes for distinguishing objects, if an ant dies inside a colony, it can take up to 2 days before they cremate it or bury based on what religion the fellow ant practiced. Not really, they just throw the dead body in the dumpster. 

Ok, this is how it works, when an ant takes its last breath, it will just fall down in its tracks. The other ants who are passing can still smell the odor of that ant and will believe this one is just slacking off at work but no action is taken. It is only after a couple of days that the dead body gives up an odor by the decomposition that the other worker ants recognize there is a dead body lying around. So they pick it up and toss it in the dumpster. I wonder if the ant coroner ever gets suspicious why each dead ant is brought to it only after several days of its passing.

Below is a worker taking a dead ant on its way to toss it to the refuse pile.


It is amazing the things you can discover when you take a closer look. You might find a friend who has a strand of hair peeking out of their nostril and waving at you or you might discover that you have been paying for the non-functional gym membership through the pandemic when you look closer at the credit card statement. 
So I am not surprised when I saw this group of Odorous House Ants entering their colony entrance after foraging for food.


Now I had a lot of questions. One of which was if they don't have gates or doorbell cameras, how do they prevent strangers from entering their colony and stealing all the halloween candy. And also if I will get to see them swiping their mini id cards before they enter the workplace to register their clock in/clock out times.
So I decided to take a closer look.


A worker ant is hanging upside down such that its antennae is covering the entrance of the colony, so any ant who is walking in, is sniffed by this security guard ant.
I mean, we humans do it these days with the temperature guns so, at least that is less creepy than someone sniffing you.

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