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When Ants Are Describes As Hammerhead Sharks...

July 7, 2014

trap jaw ant image

Uh oh… there’s a new pest in town to worry about! Have you heard of the trap-jaw ant? They are an invasive species that have entered the southeastern part of the US and they may be headed to a backyard near you. They are called the ‘trap-jaw ant’ because they have the ability to open their mandibles (or mouthparts) to 180 degrees! They’ve been described as looking like little hammerhead sharks and they are known to deliver a very fast and very painful bite.

Although there are several species of trap-jaw ant that have been living in North America for the last 50 years, this particular species is now on the move and becoming more and more common across several states on the Gulf Coast. So why should you keep on the lookout for these trap-jaw ants? Because although you might expect them to be a little clumsy with their massive mandibles, they are actually known to have some of the fastest known movements in the animal kingdom! They can ‘fire’ their little trap-jaw mouths quicker than even their brains can process, which allows them to grab and stun prey quickly. Their jaws also offer them them ability to ‘jump’ into the air. They are not actually jumping though; when these trap-jaw ants feel threatened, they fire their jaws against the ground with a great deal of force that allows them to be hurled into the air like jumping beans or popcorn. It can be disconcerting when a whole group of trap-jaw ants does this at the same time! Click here to see a video of a jumping trap-jaw ant. 

Although it can be difficult to tell how bad an invasive ant problem may become, some scientists expect they won’t be as bad as other invasive ants, like Argentine ants or fire ants. Trap-jaw ants don’t have massively large colonies with thousands of workers that will take over the local landscape; but just because their numbers are not enormous doesn’t mean they won’t have any effect at all. The bite of the trap-jaw ant can be quite painful and like most insects, there is always the possibility that someone bitten by these insects may be allergic to its venom. If you have been seeing these little ‘hammerhead’ ants running around and you’re worried about the effects they may have on your property or your family, give your local pest control professionals a call. Although these ants may be interesting to look at and even more interesting to watch, it is a good idea to contact a pest control professional to deal with these ants and any other ants that may be plaguing you.

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