How Do Ants Know When One is Missing?
Whether or not ants know when one is missing depends on the species. However, there are three main navigational systems: systematic search, backtracking and path integration.
Path integration is the ant’s way of integrating information from multiple sources into a unified representation of space. For example, Spanish desert ants remember the direction of the Sun and landmarks as they travel to their nest. They compute the fastest route back home. They also have a visual memory system. They will rescue pupae and larvae outside of their nest.
Visual-matching is not a part of the cognitive map, but is one of the three main navigational systems. It is a system for comparing information stored in long-term representations to information obtained by viewing the world.
One way that ants can recognize the same environment is through the use of compound eyes. They are capable of seeing nearly 360 degrees of vision. Using their compound eyes, ants can determine their compass direction. They can also detect the direction of their nest or their queen.
One of the most common behaviors ants perform is to search for trails. They drop their food, look around and then pick up the crumb again. They may even use their internal step-counter to keep track of the distance. However, this does not always constitute a navigational system.
Ants can also use damaged scouts to locate food and resources. However, they do not go on rescue missions to locate missing scouts.