Does size affect orientation using celestial cues?

R. Palavalli-Nettimi*, A. Narendra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Insects are well known to orient using celestial cues. The pattern of polarised skylight is the dominant celestial compass information that insects use, which they detect using a specialised set of ommatidia. The number of ommatidia decreases with body size, and it is unknown how this reduction in the number of ommatidia affects the precision of orienting using celestial cues. We investigated this in eight different ant species that had varying numbers of ommatidia. We captured ants returning home, displaced them to an unfamiliar location and measured their precision in determining heading direction using celestial cues. The heading direction of the ants measured at a fixed distance from the release and also at a distance scaled to their body size was not correlated with the number of ommatidia. However, both the path straightness and walking speed were lower in smaller ants indicating the ability to orient at a finer scale was affected by miniaturisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657–662
Number of pages6
JournalInsectes Sociaux
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • miniaturisation
  • polarisation vision
  • dorsal rim area
  • compass cues

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