These ants fly off to mate, and the females then lose their wings and dig a nest chamber in an attempt to start their own colonies. If they succeed, the queen spends the rest of her life laying eggs and being tended by workers. There are no conservation measures in place to protect leaf-cutter ants, because they are found in large numbers across their range and they are often considered a pest because they cut leaves from crops. However, these ants play an important role in maintaining the balance of their habitats because they cut back leaves, encourage new plant growth, and add nutrients to the soil by breaking down plant materials.
There are many different types of worker ant. Minor and media ants work in the fungus garden processing material and looking after the fungus.
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The smallest workers, known as minims, often hitchhike on leaves being carried by the larger workers. These minims protect the larger worker from parasitic flies which try to lay eggs in the ants. Leaf-cutter ants mark their foraging trails with chemicals from their poison gland sacs. It takes only 0. When gearing up into snapping action, the insects rub the tips of their mandibles together, creating stresses that release when one mandible slides over the other—not unlike the snapping of a human finger.
Dracula ants possess fastest known animal appendage: The snap-jaw
The force generated by this action is so great that it can stun or kill prey, which the ants then feed to their larvae. According to Hannah Devlin of the Guardian , adult Dracula ants cannot eat solid foods, so they survive by feasting on the blood of their well-fed young. The researchers compared X-ray scans of Mystrium camillae to those of Stigmatomma pallipes , a closely related ant that uses its mandibles to bite—not snap.
They found that Dracula ant mandibles are flattened in such a way that allows their jaws to bend and release like a spring. The new study also shows how improving camera technology is helping scientists study animal speeds with unprecedented accuracy. So while Mystrium camillae is currently the titleholder of the fastest jaw-snapping record, Larabee doubts this blood-sucking species will reign supreme for long.
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Our Planet. That roughly translates, for a 5-footinch tall human, into a height of 44 feet and a horizontal distance of feet, an aerial trajectory likely to be the envy of circus acrobats and Olympic athletes.
The jump's trajectory depends on the purpose of the mandible's strike. When the ant, either alone or in a group, approaches and strikes a large intruder with its jaws, it is simultaneously catapulted away from the trespasser, perhaps leaving behind a crippled victim in the process. In these so-called "bouncer defense" maneuvers, the trap-jaw ants clear, on average, In comparison, when the ant needs to escape quickly from an intruder, it strikes its jaws against the ground to fling itself into the air.
In these "escape jumps," the ant is jettisoned to heights of 6.
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Escape jumps also yield a faster initial spin rate, 63 revolutions per second, compared to the relatively slow spin rate of 36 revolutions per second for bouncer defense jumps. Study co-author Andrew Suarez, assistant professor of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted that when the ants jump to escape from harm, they are airborne from 0.
The researchers suggest that the "popcorn effect" of multiple ants jumping at once may also serve to help them escape by confusing potential predators. Suarez, along with study co-author Brian Fisher, associate curator and chair of entomology at the California Academy of Sciences, witnessed this jumping frenzy first-hand when they were in Costa Rica collecting the worker ants for this study. The researchers said the difference in aerial trajectories may be more a function of the angle at which an ant's mandibles hit their target rather than an intentional maneuver, although that is something they intend to investigate further.
Perhaps less impressive is the ants' apparent inability to control the direction of their jumps, or even their orientation when landing. Yet, the researchers note that even when an ant lands on its back or head, the insect is so light that it can still walk away no worse for wear.
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