Trap-Jaw Ants Jumping Powers
Trap-Jaw ants are usually known for their powerful jaws that launch them into the air, however scientists recently discovered that this species could also leap with their legs.
Typically when a trap-jaw ant jumps it is propelled backwards, however when they jump with their legs they are jumping forwards. When trap-jaw ants jump with their giant mandibles, they stretch their mouth wide and snap it shut. This motion acts like a spring-loaded catapult which when snapped shut, shoots the ant out of harms way.
Leg jumping in ant is exceptionally rare, of the 326 ant genera, only 3 are known to jump with their legs. Magdalena Sorger of North Carolina State University ran the experiments with the trap-jaw ants and said when she examined the ants more closely at how the trap-ants behaved when she collected them she “saw them jumping almost every time.”
Sorger discovered the reason for the jumps were in response to disturbances. She noted “they would try to escape from you by hopping forward. Soger also found that leg jumping had significant advantages, while the jaw jumps are swift and powerful, they don’t have much control over them, whereas the leg jump there is control.
The other three species of ants that jump use their jump to hunt for prey, while the trap-jaw ants don’t. Soger anticipates that upon further investigation she will confirms that trap-jaws forward jumps are used solely for escaping danger or to ambush prey.