Are ants influenced by human hormones? (CJ, Australia)



The other day I was sitting outside my house with my friend. He and I were just sitting on the ground. There were a number of small black ants around us going about their business but not really in our way. After some time they began to fixate around the area I was sitting. They climbed on my feet and gave little nips and so on. After a while it got a little ridiculous so I moved to the other side of my friend where there were no ants at all. It was completely clear and not in (what I thought to be) their trail. It wouldn't have been more than five minutes later and then they were back again. They were all around me and the spot I had been in previously was completely clear. I just couldn't figure out what it was about me??? I should point out that my friend was left alone the entire time. It occurred to me later however that it had been "that time of month" for me and was wondering if they were reacting to the change of hormone levels?

Thanks for any help you can give me
CJ


Dear CJ,

I have never heard of ants being attracted to human hormones before but without doing an experiment, it would be difficult to say for sure what was happening. Ants would be more likely to respond to food smells. Were you carrying any food or had you been cooking recently? A sweet smelling perfume could also be attractive to ants. However, smells and insect responses to them are often unpredictable. For example, certain termites recognize pen ink chemicals as trail pheromones and can be tricked into following ink lines.

Thanks for your question,
Ben Rubin & the AntAsk Team

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