The offspring of trap-jaw ants is like something out of a horror show. The babies of trap-jaw ants will make you look twice. These odd creatures are outfitted with studs and menacing looking protrusions on their spines. Thanks to major improvements in technology, the larval development of trap-jaw ants has been described for the first time.
Researchers used scanning electron microscopy to record each stage of larval development in trap-jaw ants. This is notable since every detail related to the development of trap-jaw ants was previously unknown to science. Trap-jaw ants are known for being carnivorous and for dealing out some seriously painful bites. This may sound like a problem that is only related to the fact that this particular type of ant has not yet been studied thoroughly. However, the fact that the trap-jaw ants went unstudied for so long is nothing new to ant research. In fact, only .4 percent of the known sixteen thousand species of ant have been studied.
Trap-jaw ants are a part of the genus referred to as Odontomachus. This particular ant genus includes ants that have particularly large mandibles. Once the trap-jaw ant senses its prey, it slowly opens its jaws and leaves them open until an unsuspecting bug walks by. Once the prey is within a suitable distance, the trap-jaw ant lives up to its name and slams its jaws shut. The trap-jaw ant’s jaws snap shut at a speed of two hundred and ten feet per second. And the trap-jaw ant gets a lot of use out of its jaws. For example, these ants may look like they are flying on occasion, but this is just the trap-jaw ant using its super-strong jaws to propel itself up into the air. These ants remain an object of fascination for many scientists.
Have you ever spotted an ant with strange looking mouthparts?