Jack Jumper ants, Myrmecia croslandi, are one of these unusual day-active animals in which individuals from a single nest typically head to nest specific Eucalyptus trees. Some individuals make brief forays in other compass directions but for short distances. In our latest article, we show that when individual ants are moved to locations where they have never been to before, they return home directly. It is quite remarkable that animals make this decision of heading home within just a few seconds.
We suggest that if ants compare the visual scene available at the displaced location with memorised nest views from different directions, it is theoretically possible to return home directly.
Reference: Ajay Narendra, Sarah Gourmaud, Jochen Zeil. 2013. Mapping the navigational knowledge of individually foraging ants, Myrmecia croslandi. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280: 20130683.
Unfortunately, the paper is not freely available. Email me for a copy.
ABC covered this article with a nice interview from Jochen Zeil.