Look Out! The Next Invasive Florida Species: Trap-Jaw Ants
Another day, another terrifying crazy animal arrives in Florida.
The Daily Mail reported yesterday that a new ant native to South America, called Odontomachus haematodus, had been found across the Gulf Coast. Research conducted by North Carolina State University shows the nonnative species was found in populated places in Florida like Orlando, Pensacola, and Gainesville. This ant, though -- it ain't like the ants you're thinking of.
Instead, the beast can open its jaw 180 degrees, furiously snap its mouth toward the ground like a bear trap to launch itself, and sting you with venom.
"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," Magdalena Sorger of North Carolina State (and a coauthor of the study) told the Daily Mail.
The National Geographic pointed out that there are four species of trap-jaw ants native to the United States. Sorger studied the spread of "an invasive and particularly aggressive species from South America called Odontomachus haematodus."
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Why exactly they're spreading isn't known, but the researchers suspect it's because of climate changes allowing them to spread quicker.
"Trap-jaw ants have little sensory hairs on the inside of their jaws," Sheila Patek, a biologist who studies the evolutionary mechanics of movements at Duke University, told National Geographic. "So they can fire those latch muscles even faster than their brain can process.
"The next thing you know you have this ant flying through the air that you can't even see, it's moving so fast, with a big stinger on the end of its abdomen," she added. "It is really nerve-racking working with them."
Check out just how terrifying they can be: