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How insects can sense smell of death?

Category : General Chemicals
Published by : Data Research Analyst, Worldofchemicals.com

If someone asked you the differences between humans and animals, one of the first thought that strikes on your mind is language/way of communication. Humans generally communicate through verbal communication. But at the same time animals also can able communicate in various ways. 

But how? 

Insects use almost all senses to communicate and still they can communicate by touch, smell, sound, and sight. Some creatures like ants can use pheromones and sound to indicate social status and distress, bees dance to tell one another where to find honey, and chimpanzees can learn sign language.

Earlier as i mentioned in the above paragraph, smell is one of the way of communication. Insects have an unbelievable power called sense of smell. They can able to detect just a few molecules of a certain scent present in the air. These molecules called pheromones. A pheromone is nothing but a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual.

Sometimes pheromones are released into the air, and insects smell them with their antennae. Still in other instances they are released onto something, in which case the insect can taste the chemical with its feet.

In a interesting studies about these insects had revealed that, when insects dies, deceased creature will release some kind of fatty acids in the form of pheromones.

This stench smell helps living creatures to avoid others that have succumbed to disease or places where predators lurk.

Oleic acid is a known fatty acid chemical released in the form of pheromones by certain insects upon death. Insects identify this fatty acid by its scent, and it signifies death and the possibility of disease to them. Insects avoid the source of this scent.

When an any insect dies, the other same insect species don't notice. They walk around it as if it wasn't there, or was just an ant standing still. Three days later, they notice.

We will be suprised why three days?

There is a reason for it. Because the insect has to start decaying to the point where it releases oleic acid. This chemical therefor triggers the instincts of living workers to remove the dead bodies from their place. The oleic acid smell also may indicate danger to living insects.

Other uses of oleic acid:

Oleic acid as its sodium salt is a major component of soap as an emulsifying agent. It is also used as an emollient. Oleic acid is also used to induce lung damage in certain types of animals, for the purpose of testing new drugs and other means to treat lung diseases. Oleic acid may be responsible for the hypotensive effects of olive oil.

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