Parasitic ants keep evolving to lose their smell and taste genes

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A female myrmicine ant (Temnothorax americanus)

Clarence Holmes Wildlife/Alamy

To most ants, smell and taste are everything. But some parasitic ant species have lost the genes that drive these senses – a sensory shakeup that may be due to the way they outsource some tasks to host species.

Interpreting subtle chemical cues through smell and taste help ants hold their societies together. This “chemoreception” is involved in everything from group foraging to recognising nest mates.

But not all ants live or interact with each other the same way. Some ants are social parasites that raid …

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