The combined role of visual and olfactory cues in foraging by Cataglyphis ants in laboratory mazes

Tomer Gilad, Ori Bahar, Malak Hasan, Adi Bar, Aziz Subach, Inon Scharf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Foragers use several senses to locate food, and many animals rely on vision and smell. It is beneficial not to rely on a single sense, which might fail under certain conditions. We examined the contribution of vision and smell to foraging and maze exploration under laboratory conditions using Cataglyphis desert ants as a model. Foraging intensity, measured as the number of workers entering the maze and arriving at the target as well as target arrival time, were greater when food, blue light, or both were offered or presented in contrast to a control. Workers trained to forage for a combined food and light cue elevated their foraging intensity with experience. However, foraging intensity was not higher when using both cues simultaneously than in either one of the two alone. Following training, we split between the two cues and moved either the food or the blue light to the opposite maze corner. This manipulation impaired foraging success by either leading to fewer workers arriving at the target cell (when the light stayed and the food was moved) or to more workers arriving at the opposite target cell, empty of food (when the food stayed and the light was moved). This result indicates that ant workers use both senses when foraging for food and readily associate light with food.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-408
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Zoology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • binary-tree maze
  • desert ants
  • diet choice
  • foraging
  • sensual modality
  • spatial learning

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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