New study casts light on trap-jaw ants’ escape mechanism, as scientists at the University of Illinois want to determine just how ferocious the small insects can be.
The University of Illinois is well-known for the scientific researches that they usually carry out to find new and interesting facts about otherwise well-known aspects of life. The most recent study might fail in capturing ordinary people’s attention, but for the science community, it stands as a solid ground for further experiments.
The most recent study that was conducted by science professors at the said university involved the careful observation of trap-jaw ants’ behavior. Scientists were particularly interested in finding out how these insects use their jaws to protect themselves against other predators.
During the first stage of the experiment, the trap-jaw ants were placed in the same box with antlions. When faced with their most feared attackers, the tiny trap-jaw ants initially tried to escape the box in order to avoid any confrontation.
Unfortunately, the runaway plan did not work out as they expected to, so the ants had to find new methods to impose themselves in front of the other predators. Once they realized they have no other chance, but to engage in attack, the trap-jaw ants bit the antlions. The escape rate was set, according to scientists to 15 percent.
The escape attempt failed because, although fast, the ants cannot outrun their predators. During the first phase of the experiment, Fredrick Larabee, a science student at the University of Illinois, noticed that ants where hindered by the sand traces gathering underneath their feet.
As a consequence, they all gathered at the center of the box and used their fast mandibles to attack the rival insects.
Despite this discovery related to ants’ defensive mechanism, scientists wanted to know more about these insects’ abilities.
Thus, ants had their mandibles glued during the second phase of the experiment and their survival rates decreased by 50 percent. The survival ants escaped due to their running abilities as they no longer could use their jaws to attack the antlions.
The findings of the scientific experiment shed light on other living beings’ behavior. These discoveries will most likely be used as a basis for additional research tests and papers.
The results of the study have already been published in the PLOS ONE scientific journal.
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