Acta Biologica Hungarica

, Volume 56, Issue 3–4, pp 215–224 | Cite as

An Experimental Analysis on the Magnetic Field Sensitivity of the Black-Meadow Ant Formica Pratensis Retzius (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

  • Y. CamlitepeEmail author
  • V. Aksoy
  • N. Uren
  • A. Yilmaz
  • I. Becenen
Open Access


Ant responses were tested under both the natural geomagnetic and artificially induced Earth-strength electromagnetic field. Foragers were trained for a month to visit a food source at the north arm accessed through an orientation platform assembly. Under the natural geomagnetic field, when all other orientational cues were eliminated, results indicated significant heterogeneity of ant distribution with the majority seeking geomagnetic north in darkness. However, in light, foragers failed to discriminate geomagnetic north. Under shifted artificial electromagnetic field, orientation was predominantly on the artificial magnetic N/S axis with a significant preference for the artificial north in both light and dark conditions.


Magnetic sense magnetoreception orientation ants Formica pratensis 


  1. 1.
    Acosta-Avalos, D., Wajnberg, E., Oliviera, P. S., Leal, I., Farina, M., Esquivel D. M. S. (1999) Isolation of magnetic nanoparticles from Pachycondyla marginata ants. J. Exp. Biol. 202, 2687–2692.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Acosta-Avalos, D., Esquivel, D. M. S., Wajnberg, E., Lins de Barros, H. G. P., Oliviera, P. S., Leal, I. (2001) Seasonal patterns in the orientation system of the migratory ant Pachycondyla marginata. Naturwissenschaften 88, 343–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anderson, J. B., Vander Meer, R. K. (1993) Magnetic orientation in the fire ant. Naturwissenschaften 80, 568–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aneshansley, D. J., Larkin, T. S. (1981) V-test is not a statistical test of “homeward” direction. Nature 293, 239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Banks, A. N., Srygley, R. B. (2003) Orientation by magnetic field in leaf–cutter ants, Atta colombica (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ethology 109, 835–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Batschelet, E. (1981) Circular Statistics in Biology. Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Camlitepe, Y., Stradling, D. J. (1995) Wood ant orient to magnetic fields. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 261, 37–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Camlitepe, Y., Stradling, D. J. (1998) Do red wood ant Formica rufa use group specific pheromones for route fidelity? A preliminary survey. Biologia, Bratislava. 53, 657–662.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Camlitepe, Y. (1999) Trail following responses of the red wood ant Formica rufa L. in darkness. Israel Journal of Zoology 45, 231–238.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    El-Jaick, L. J., Acosta-Avalos, D., Esquivel, D. M. S., Wajnberg, E., Linhares, M. P. (2000) Electron paramagnetic resonance study of honeybee Apis mellifera abdomens. Eur. Biophys. J. 29, 579–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Goddard, S. M., Forward, R. B. (1991) The role of underwater polarized light pattern, in sun-compass navigation of the grass shrimp Palaemonetes vulgaris. J. Comp. Physiol. A. 169, 479–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gould, J. L., Kirschvink, J. L., Deffeyes, K. S. (1978) Bees have magnetic remanence. Science 201, 1026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gould, J. L., Kirschvink, J. L., Deffeyes, K. S., Brines, M. L. (1980) Orientation of demagnetized bees. J. Exp. Biol. 86, 1–8.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hsu, C. Y., Li, C. W. (1994) Magnetoreception in honeybees. Science. 265, 95–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Irwin, W. P., Lohmann, K. J. (2003) Magnet-induced disorientation in hatchling loggerhead sea turtles. J. Exp. Biol. 206, 497–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jander, R., Jander, U. (1998) The light and magnetic compass of the weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ethology 104, 743–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Klotz, J. H., van Zandt, L. L., Reid, B. L., Bennett, G. W. (1997) Evidence lacking for magnetic compass orientation in fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Kansas Entomol. Soc. 70, 64–65.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Maher, B. A. (1998) Magnetite biomineralization in termites. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 265, 733–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Phillips, J. B., Borland, S. C. (1992) Behavioural evidence for use of a light-dependent magnetoreception mechanism by a vertebrate. Nature 359, 142–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rosengren, R., Fortelius, W. (1986) Ortstreue in foraging ants of the Formica rufa group–a hierarchy of orienting cues and long-term memory. Insectes Soc. 33, 306–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Slowik, T. J., Thorvilson, H. G. (1996) Localisation of subcuticular iron-containing tissue in the red imported fire ant. Southwestern Entomologist 21, 247–254.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Slowik, T. J., Green, B. L., Thorvilson, H. G. (1997) Detection of magnetism in the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) using magnetic resonance imaging. Bioelectromagnetics 18, 396–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Vácha, M., Soukopová, H. (2004) Magnetic orientation in the mealworm beetle Tenebrio and the effect of light. J. Exp. Biol. 207, 1241–1248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wajnberg, E., Acosta-Avalos, D., El-Jaick, Abraçado, L., Coelho, J. L. A., Bakuzis, A. F., Morais, P. C., Esquivel, D. M. S. (2000) Electron paramagnetic study of the migratory ant Pachycondyla marginata abdomens. Biophys. J. 78, 1018–1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wiltschko, W., Wiltschko, R. (1976) Interrelation of magnetic compass and star orientation in nightmigrating birds. J. Comp. Physiol. 109, 91–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Wiltschko, R., Wiltschko, W. (1995) Magnetic Orientation in Animals. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Wiltschko, R., Wiltschko, W. (2001) The geomagnetic field and its role in directional orientation. In: Barth, F. G., Schmid, A. (ed.) Ecology of Sensing. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 289–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Zar, J. H. (1984) Biostatistical Analysis. Prentice Hall Inc. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2005

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Camlitepe
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. Aksoy
    • 1
  • N. Uren
    • 1
  • A. Yilmaz
    • 1
  • I. Becenen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of Arts and SciencesUniversity of TrakyaEdirneTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Electricity, Edirne College of Technical & Administrative StudiesUniversity of TrakyaEdirneTurkey

Personalised recommendations