The Trap-Jaw Ant is a really cool genus of ant because it has the fastest jaws in the insect and animal kingdom.
I started studying ants when I was 7 years old. I liked to watch them outside scavenging for insect body parts and looking for prey. I once saw these camponatos pennsilvanacus, also known as the black carpenter ant, moving into a tree trunk in my backyard. They were preparing for winter inside the tree trunk. I once saw the Queen camponatos noveraboracenis, also known as the red and black carpenter ants, in the front yard hanging out in her nest and looking around to ensure the nest was secured to protect the larvae.
I especially liked the Ants Canada YouTube Channel about ants. I probably watch about 6 or 9 videos every weekend. In the video, the host has these fire ants, the yellow crazy ants, the black crazy ants and the poliraccus ants. The host makes videos about these ants and talks about how to take care of them and talks about their lives.
I don’t have any books about ants. I am subscribed to the National Geographic and hope to get something on ants.
What are trap-jaw ants?
The ondoctomachas, or trap-jaw ant, is a genus of carnivorous ants that lives in the tropics and subtropics throughout the world. It has a pair of large, straight mandibles, or jaws, that they can open to 180 degrees. The jaws are locked-in in place by an internal mechanism and can shut on prey or objects when sensory hairs are triggered. These sensory hairs are inside the jaws.
The following graph includes all of the species of the genus odontomachus, also known as the trap-jaw ant.
I added this picture just to show what the male ant, or drone, looked like. Their role in the ant world is to mate with the Queen. The worker ants are the females in the other pictures.
There are different types of workers. There are the majors and super majors (massive heads) who protect the colony from enemy ant colonies and the nursers take care of the larvae.
This trap-jaw larvae (white part) is eating the head of a termite.
This is a nurser cleaning the pupae.
How do their jaws work?
The jaws work like a trigger. Tiny muscles in the head of the trap-jaw ant pull the mandibles back, lock into place by a latch that's part of the mandible joint. When the trigger muscle releases the latch, the jaws snap together. The force is 300 times the ant’s own weight.
The trap-jaw ants have the fastest jaws in the animal kingdom. One study of ondoctomachas baury recorded speeds of 126 to 230 kilometers per hour when the jaws snap shut at just 130 micro seconds. That’s 2,300 times faster than the blink of an eye.
Head comparison of a black field ant (genus Formica Fusca) and a trap-jaw ant.
In new studies, scientists have discovered that the trap-jaw ant also use their jaws to catapult themselves to safety (2015). They produce so much force that when they push off the ground, that force gets projected back on the ant and they go flying through the air. It’s like popcorn popping!
This happens faster than the eye can see. Scientists need to use slow motion video. A snap of the jaw can launch an ant up to 8.3 centimeters (3.3 inches) in the air. That would be like my mom, who is five-foot-six, jumping 13 meters (44 feet) in the air!
What is their fiercest predator?
The antlion (also called the doodlebug) is a fierce predatory insect that digs pits to trap passing ants or other prey. They also dig pits to protect their larvae.
What do trap jaw ants eat?
Trap-jaw ants mostly eat other insects like spiders, other ants and crickets. Their favorite are small, soft bugs. They also love raw honey. When they pick-up their raw honey, they also pick-up soil to make it easier to pick-up. The Trap-jaw ant will also farm honeydew-producing insects like aphids, scale bugs and mealy bugs.
Trap-jaw ants farm the aphids. The trap-jaw ant protects the aphids from the ladybugs that eat them. If there is a rain storm, the trap-jaw ants will move the aphids under a branch or a leaf.
This is a trap-jaw ant milking some aphids.
This a trap-jaw ant fighting another trap-jaw ant.
This is a trap-jaw ant eating a cricket.
When was the trap-jaw of the ant discovered?
The trap-jaw ant was first discovered in 1758. But the discovery of the trap-jaw, or mandibles, and how the ant used them was only made in 2015 because of image and video technology that let scientists examine the extremely fast movements of the trap-jaw ant.
Why are scientists studying the trap-jaw ant?
Studying these ants helps scientists understand and think of new solutions for real-world issues. Trap-jaw ants store energy in their tiny jaw (latch holds mandibles open and stores power)- so how can we store lots of energy (batteries, wind power, solar panels). Trap-jaw ants have ultrafast jaws (they spring closed or “pop” closed)- how can we create high-speed systems? (sports cars, high-speed trains, fighter jets).
he trap-jaw ant has opened many windows into physics (study of movement), evolution (study of how animals adapt and evolve), engineering (study of the design of engines, machines, structures and electrical systems) and ecology (study of animals in nature).
Some of the video I watched:
Bull Ants | The Giants of the UndergrowthAnts Australia
Live Stream: FEEDING ALL MY ANT COLONIESAntsCanada
Ant Room Tour | Bull AntsAnts Australia
ANT WAR: BATTLE OF THE THREE ARMIES!
CREATING AN ISLAND FOR ANTS! (PALUDARIUM)AntsCanada
OH NO! ALL ANTS DEAD?!
MY NEW ANT COLONY - AWESOME!AntsCanada
OMG! My Fire Ants Are Planning an EscapeAntsCanada
MY DREAM ANT FARM: LEAFCUTTER ANTS!AntsCanada
STUNG by a BULLET ANT!Brave Wilderness
National Geographic Wild City Of AntsBernardo Segura
FIRE ANTS vs FLOOD! | What Happens to Ants When It Rains?
WOW! FIRE ANTS BUILD GIANT ANT HILLS in a BIN!
COMING BACK HOME TO ANT DISASTER! PLEASE HELP!
FIRE ANTS VS. MY HAND
ANTS vs. SNAKEAntsCanada
CRAZY ANT BITE!Brave Wilderness
SILVER WEAVER ANTS!! - Making their nest in my vivarium update (polyrhachis)
WHY I RELEASED MY PET ANTS BACK INTO THE WILD - VERY SAD DAY!
New ROOM-SIZED Ant Farm | Pharaoh AntsAntsCanada
And the list goes on…..
I am 13 years old and in Grade 7 and have always loved bugs. One day, I will be an entomologist. My favourite insect is the ant, and I will spend hours just watching them work. Join me for some fun ant exploration!