Insect learning flights and walks

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Knowledge of where things are in one's habitual surroundings cannot be encoded genetically and must be acquired in those surroundings. Many ants, bees and wasps forage from a home base and before doing so learn where resources are to be found and how to return with them to their nest. A significant component of this navigational learning seems to be the acquisition of panoramic views that insects record close to their nests and resource sites and along the paths between these places. Behavioural evidence indicates that these views are retinotopic, meaning, for instance, that an insect knows that it faces along a familiar route, if the image on its retina matches a view that it had previously recorded, when facing in that direction during route learning. Many ants, bees and wasps make repeated foraging trips from their nest. In this primer, Collett and Zeil discuss the special learning behaviour that these insects perform in order to become familiar with the visual features of their surroundings when they first leave their nest to pursue a foraging career.




Collett, T. S., & Zeil, J. (2018, September 10). Insect learning flights and walks. Current Biology. Cell Press.

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