Fun Trap-jaw Ant Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Sonali Rawat
Trap-jaw ant facts for kids are interesting.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.6 Min

Trap-jaw ants is the common name for ants belonging to the genus Odontomachus that is further divided into 73 different species which are endemic to their own regions. Trap-jaw ants have a fixed hierarchy, with the queen standing at the top with workers being an important part of their hierarchy.

This species of ants are infamous for their aggressive behavior, venomous stings, and a strong jaw that helps them to evade predators by jumping away in the air.

These ants have a large pair of mandibles that can be opened at 180 degrees. These mandibles are fast and powerful.

This species of ants either disable or kill their prey and bring them back to their nest. Trap jaw ants snap and lock their jaw repeatedly if a single bite is not enough to kill or subdue their, or to break off larger foods.

Odontomachus also use their jaws as a catapult to discharge intruders or toss themselves backward to escape threats. Read on for more facts about these ants.

If you liked these true facts about the trap-jaw ant, then you'll surely like these facts about limpet and sac spiders too!

Trap-Jaw Ant Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a trap-jaw ant?

Odontomachus got their name 'trap-jaw' with reference to their mandibles that have a spring-loaded catch mechanism, allowing the ants to store up energy to strike and release the mandibles repeatedly at extremely high acceleration and speed causing painful and venomous stings. The hairs on their mandibles are extremely sensitive that are triggered if they are touched by other objects.

What class of animal does a trap-jaw ant belong to?

Trap-jaw ants (Odontomachus bauri) belong to the class of Insecta.

How many trap-jaw ants are there in the world?

Trap-jaw ants consist of 73 species, and there is no accurate count of how many of these trap-jaw ants exist in the wild. A single colony might consist of a queen with 200 individuals.

Where does a trap-jaw ant live?

Trap-jaw ants are found in the tropical and subtropical regions across the world, especially in America, South Asia, and Madagascar.

What is a trap-jaw ant's habitat?

Trap-jaw ants build their nest in rotting logs, leaf litters, and soil. These ants are typically found beneath forest floors, under deadwood, and in urban areas. They build their nests that are found in the compost underneath the boundaries of landscaped areas near commercial buildings, homes, hotels, and malls.

Who does a trap-jaw ant live with?

Trap-jaw ants live in groups, with most of their foraging done in groups due to living in colonies. As per the hierarchy of these colonies, the queen is at the top as she lays eggs.

The soldiers primarily focus on defense and protecting the rood from animals. Interestingly, the workers and soldiers are sterile females. This means they cannot separate and form their own brood or colonies without a young queen from the previous queen.

How long does a trap-jaw ant live?

Trap-jaw ants usually have a wide range of longevity. Alongside her brood, the queen and her colony lives for upwards of 20 years. Unfortunately, the male will die soon after they mate with their queen. The worker ants have a life cycle that ends just after a year.

How do they reproduce?

Males will fly between colonies and run and control the workers in the alien colony they live in. Usually, the amount of work and effort they exhibit in running their colony determines their mating with the queen.

The workers play a part in choosing which male will copulate with the queen in the colony. Many of the males are similar to queens in their build and toughness.

Males try to impress the queen with the exhibition of control and efficiency in running the colony properly. Now, if the queen is impressed by the male's show of toughness and work, she will allow that particular male to breed with her.

One male will mate with only one queen in his lifetime, and soon after the mating takes place, he dies. As a result, the entire colony will provide care for the developing brood. Queens are only focused on the job of egg-laying. The workers feed and care for every egg, larvae, and pupa.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN currently has no special status for the species of trap-jaw ants as these insects can be found in abundance across the globe.

Trap-Jaw Ant Fun Facts

What does a trap-jaw ant look like?

Trap-jaw ants have a large pair of straight mandibles that can open up to 180 degrees. The jaws are fastened in place by an intramural spring-loaded mechanism that can snap shut when an object touches the sensory trigger hairs inside of the mandibles.

These mandibles are also able to move slowly for other tasks such as taking care of the larvae and building nests.

Trap-jaw ant facts talk about the habitat of this ant.

How cute are they?

It would be tough to call trap-jaw ants cute if you see them up close! They might seem cute to some.

How do they communicate?

Trap-jaw ants have several ways to communicate with one another. They use chemical signals by releasing chemicals called pheromones in the air to leave trails back to the nest, when they gather to prey on insects, or when they find food. Workers mark the food they find by rubbing their abdomen, releasing pheromones on it.

How big is a trap-jaw ant?

Trap-jaw ants can vary in size depending on where they stand in the hierarchy. Queens can stand at several centimeters in length, and the colony workers are 0.47 in (1.2 cm) approximately in size. In comparison, the velvet ant and the ghost ant are slightly bigger than this type of ant on average.

How fast can a trap-jaw ant move?

Although accurate data on their speed cannot be found, these ants are known for their high jump into the air and often traveling over 20 times their body length.

How much does a trap-jaw ant weigh?

These ants have a small body which means they are lightweight and weigh next to nothing.

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male ant is usually called a drone. Females do not have a particular name assigned to them but are mostly called queen ants.

What would you call a baby trap-jaw ant?

A baby ant is called larvae. The baby ant that hatches from the egg has a soft white body with no legs and a small head. The larvae are fed by the queen and then by workers.

What do they eat?

Trap-jaw ants primarily feed on beetles, butterflies, termites, worms, flies, garden spiders, other ants, and sweet substances.

Are they dangerous?

Trap-jaw ants are dangerous not just because of their powerful mandibles. Their painful bite, venomous stings, and aggressive behavior make them dangerous when their nest is threatened.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not. This ant species is known for their strong and powerful mandible which causes a painful and venomous sting if they bite you.

They are gross in nature, and even though keeping them as pets might seem a good idea for people who want to keep unique animals as pets, it isn't recommended to keep one as a pet.

Did you know...

Ants are incredibly strong. They have the ability to carry between 10-50 times their own body weight.

Due to their small size, ant species do not have lungs as they have no room to harbor a complex respiratory system.

Ants have more than one stomach and each stomach has a different role to play. One of their stomachs is for holding food for their own consumption, and the other is for food that is to be shared with other ants.

Unlike other ant species, trap-jaws have small colonies with a maximum of 200 individuals.

Which animal has the fastest snapping jaw?

The Dracula ant species (Mystrium camillae) has the fastest snapping jaw. It can snap shut its spring-loaded powerful mandibles at speeds of up to 200 mph (321.8 kph), making it the fastest animal movement in the world.

In contrast, trap-jaw ants (Odontomachus bauri) strike with their mandibles at a speed of 78-143 mph (126-230 kph) that yield peak forces exceeding their own weight.

How many jaws does an ant have?

The head of trap-jaw ants has two strong and large jaws. The jaws open and shut laterally like a pair of scissors.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our black house spider facts and kudzu bug facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable trap-jaw ant coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Sonali Rawat

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature, Masters of Art specializing in English and Communication Skills

Sonali Rawat picture

Sonali RawatBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature, Masters of Art specializing in English and Communication Skills

Sonali has a Bachelor's degree in English literature from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and is currently pursuing a Master's in English and Communication from Christ University. With considerable experience in writing about lifestyle topics, including travel and health, she has a passion for Japanese culture, especially fashion, and anime, and has written on the subject before. Sonali has event managed a creative-writing festival and coordinated a student magazine at her university. Her favorite authors are Toni Morrison and Anita Desai.

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