Ant navigation: priming of visual route memories

Nature. 2005 Nov 17;438(7066):302. doi: 10.1038/438302a.


Ants travelling to and fro between their nest and a foraging area may follow stereotyped foodward and homeward routes that are guided by different visual and directional memory sequences. Honeybees are known to fly a feeder-to-hive or hive-to-feeder vector according to whether or not they have recently fed--their feeding state controls which compass direction they select. We show here that the feeding state of the wood ant Formica rufa also determines the choice between an outward or inward journey, but by priming the selective retrieval of visual landmark memories.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Ants / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sucrose


  • Sucrose