Desert Ants Increase Visibility of Nest Entrances in Absence of Landmarks

Desert ants have outstanding navigational skills. They live in the saltpans of North Africa, an extremely inhospitable environment. To find food for their nest mates, foraging ants have to walk far into the desert. Once they have found food, for example a dead insect, their actual problem begins: How do they find their way back to their nest as quickly as possible in the extremely hot and barren environment? “The desert ant Cataglyphis fortis stands out due its remarkable ability to successfully navigate and forage in even the harshest environments, making it an excellent subject for studying the intricacies of navigation. With an innate navigation mechanism called path integration, these ants use both a sun compass and a step counter to measure the distances they cover. In addition, they possess the ability to learn and utilize visible and olfactory cues. We believe that this extremely harsh habitat has led, during evolution, to a navigation system of unsurpassed precision," said Marilia Freire, PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany, the study's lead author, summarizing what is known so far about the amazing orientation skills of these insects. A study of this navigation was published on May 31, 2023 in Current Biology. The article is titled “Absence of Visual Cues Motivates Desert Ants to Build Their Own Landmarks.”
Login Or Register To Read Full Story