Ants secrete substances called pheromones, which are chemical messages detected by other ants through sense organs or the antennae. This process, called chemoreception, is the primary communication vehicle that facilitates mate attraction, kin, and non-kin recognition. It is also used to discriminate between egg, larva, and pupa, as warning signals, recruitment to defensive action or a new food source, the laying of odor trails from which workers or scouts find their way home or lead an entire colony to a new location, and delineation of territorial boundaries.
Chemoreception is supported by tactile (touch and feel), acoustic (hearing and vibration detection), and visual communication. Ants send tactile signals by touching and stroking each others' bodies with their antennae and forelegs. Ants produce high-pitched chirps known as stridulations by rubbing together specialized body parts on the abdomen called files and scrapers. Stridulations are sometimes heard, but most often felt, the vibrations being detected by sensitive receptors on the legs. The young queen stridulates frantically during mating season to announce a full sperm sac, deterring other would-be mates and allowing her to escape to begin nesting. Drumming and body-rapping are used primarily by tree-dwelling ants and carpenter ants, and involve banging the head or antenna on a hard surface, sending vibrational warning signals to nest mates. Some large-eyed species, such as Gigantiops, can see form and movement but vision in most ants is virtually nonexistent and the least important of all their communication senses.
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