Follow The Trail

Moebius Strip I I

Moebius Strip I I MC Escher

Ants use trail pheromones to recruit additional foragers to a food source. When a foraging ant discovers food, she lays a pheromone trail as she returns to the nest with the food. Other foragers can follow her trail to locate the food.

If another forager first encounters the trail in the middle, how does she know which direction is the nest and which direction is the food? Direction can be deduced from other cues. Ants can navigate by landmarks and skylines. The direction that leads away from the skyline over the nest is most likely the correct location of the food. This can be confirmed by encounters with other foragers. Foragers traveling the trail carrying food burdens are heading in the direction of the nest. Unburdened foragers are most likely going toward the food.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired 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.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, communication. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Follow The Trail

  1. Pingback: Follow The Trail – Entomo Planet

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