There’s an ant that looks like it’s straight out of a 1960’s sci-fi movie making its way across the southeastern region of the United States.
The invasive, venomous Trap-Jaw Ant, formally known as Odontomachus haematodus, was first spotted in Alabama in 1956. Its primary habitat until now has been in Florida, in areas south of Orlando. But researchers now believe the ant is expanding its habitat after finding specimens well over 100 miles north of Orlando.
This particular species of Trap-jaw ant is native to South America. It features huge external jaws that can be spread out to 180 degrees. The ant can snap its jaws inward from this position to either crush prey or launch itself into the air.
Researchers from North Carolina State University, the Mississippi Entomological Museum, the University of California, Davis and Archbold Biological Station are responsible for discovering the ant’s expanding habitat. Here’s what researcher Magdalena Sorger said about why the group wanted to study the ant.
“We know very little about these ants, including how they interact with native ant species in the areas they’re invading,” Sorger told MailOnline. “The fact that some of these species are spreading is interesting, in part, because these giant ants have managed to expand their territory without anyone noticing.”
Want to see this huge predator insect? Check out these pictures:
Here’s a video showing the ant using its giant jaws to snap itself into the air:
Photo Credit: Alex Wild