New research conducted by scientists from Wits University in South Africa and Lund University in Sweden and published in Current Biology on Jan. 24, 2013, is the first definitive proof that an insect or any animal uses stars as a directional beacon.
The dung beetle uses the stars in the Milky Way as a directional beacon to ensure the beetles roll their dung in a straight path and do not go about in circles. The dung beetles eyes are not sensitive enough to detect individual stars in the Milky Way but the insects are able to see the pattern that the Milky way makes in the sky even when the sky is overcast or cloudy.
The dung beetles were observed climbing on top of their ball of dung and doing an orientation “dance” to locate the path of the Milky Way that gives the bugs their direction to their home as well as to the most convenient and last used food site. Dung beetles are nocturnal creatures.
This is the only animal in the world proven to use the stars to determine direction and location to date.
The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert website the date of publication.