Foraging With Odors

Moebius Strip I I

Moebius Strip I I
MC Escher

The desert ant Cataglyphis fortis primarily feeds on dead insects that are sparse and unevenly distributed in their environment. A single forager can carry a small dead insect back to the nest without aid. As dead insects are typically found as individuals and not in groups, foragers locate food as individuals, rather than cooperatively. This allows the foragers as a group to cover a wide area.

To aid in locating food, the ants orient to odors emanating from dead insects. A forager leaving the nest will typically head in a direction to a point suitably distant from the nest. The forager will then move in a direction that is perpendicular (crosswind) to the wind. Odors travel in a plume in a general downwind direction. By moving across the wind, a forager increases its chance of detecting food odor. If food odor is detected, the ant will orient upwind until the source is reached.

Matthew Collett1 and Ring T. Carde. Navigation: Many Senses Make Efficient Foraging Paths. Current Biology Vol 24 No 9 R362-4.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.001

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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One Response to Foraging With Odors

  1. Pingback: Foraging With Odors – Entomo Planet

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