Ants Use Vision Homing Backwards
Prof Barbara Webb of Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics has been studying how ants navigate when walking backwards. Informatics is the science of information and computer data systems before you reach for your thesaurus. Her main interest is insect behaviour, ‘as their smaller nervous systems may be easier to understand.’
Barbara’s latest publication reports on how ants use vision when returning home walking backwards dragging prey. Her experiments suggest they do so by observing the sun’s position in the sky.
They do however combine this with what they see of their immediate surroundings. Should we be concerned this sounds vaguely human?
Her colleague Antoine Wystrach is especially interested how ants are able to ‘decouple their direction of travel from their body orientation.’
We suppose like reverse parking using mirrors. Barbara Webb’s ants scored high in their ability to ‘construct a more sophisticated representation of direction’ than she originally thought. This may be why they always find their way back to the strawberry syrup, despite Auger’s best efforts to chase them away.