Outbound bull ants control direction using landmark panorama and polarised skylight.
Sam Reid writes: ”Navigating ants use a number of celestial and terrestrial compass cues to determine and control their direction of travel. Which of the cues dominate appears to depend on their salience. Here we show that night-active bull ants attend to both the pattern of polarised skylight and the landmark panorama in their familiar habitat. However, landmark guidance appears to be the primary mechanism of navigation used by forager ants, with those cues in the direction of heading having the greatest influence on navigation. Interestingly, other parts of the surrounding panorama also influence foraging speed and accuracy, suggesting that they too play a role in navigation. Finally, different colonies respond to the removal of landmark cues to different degrees, depending on the directional information provided by the local landmark panorama.”
Reid S.F., Narendra A., Hemmi J. M., and Zeil J (2011) Polarised skylight and the landmark panorama provide night-active bull ants with compass information during route following. The Journal of Experimental Biology. 214 (1), 363 – 370