Trap Jaw Ant Antenna

Trap-Jaw Ant

Trap-Jaw Ant
Photo: Gerardine Vargas

Trap Jaw Ants in the Genus Odontomachus, are known for rapid mandible speeds that exceed 80 mph. The rapidly closing mandibles can crush an enemy or prey. Workers of the Trap Jaw Ant, Odontomachus bauri, can also retract antennae at speeds 2-3 times faster than other ants*. The rapid antennal movement occurs only in females and not in males that do not use their jaws for attacking other insects.

Why the rapid antennal movement? When the jaws snap shut on another insect, the insect may struggle and strike parts of the ant’s body within reach. The antennae are rapidly retracted pulling them out of harms way and preventing injury during the struggle.

*Ehmer, B., Gronenberg, W., 1997. Antennal muscles and fast antennal movements in ants.  J. Comp. Physiol. B Biochem. Systemic Environ. Physiol. 167, 287–296.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

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