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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trap Jaws Ants of Malaysia, Odontomachus, Anochetus and Strumigenys.

Three genus of trap jaws ants are common in Malaysia. Theses are Odontomachus, Anochetus and Strumigenys. A fourth species is not considered to be trap jaws ants even if it is. And that is Myrmoteras. Of these the smallest are the Strumigenys measuring some 2 mm to 3.5 mm. These also have the smallest nest in terms of numbers of ants. Strumigenys is the only genus among these three that are not handicapped by slippery feet (incapability to cling to smooth surfaces). The queens of most trap jaws ants species are never-claustral (as opposed to fully-claustral), they never seal themselves in their nest and are always actively foraging and hunting until their first brood of workers take over. 

Odontomachus simillimus is the most commonly encountered and is found where there are trees and grass patches even beside heavily use main roads. They seem to have a preference nesting at the base of medium to large size tress.

Like most Ponerinae ants, Odontomachus simillimus are semi claustral and the queens hunt for prey during the founding stage. Similar with Odontoponera transversa egg laying can only commences after the queen has fed on protein rich food. Odontomachus simillimus queens are prolific egg layer and well fed (i.e. with protein feed) queens will laying several eggs daily.

The male alate or drone of Odontomachus simillimus.
male alate or drone of Odontomachus simillimus

The male alate or drone of Odontomachus simillimus.
male alate or drone of Odontomachus simillimus

Odontomachus simillimus worker.

A worker of the common trapjaw ant Odontomachus simillimus.

Above and below a major worker of Odontomachus simillimus measuring 10 mm.
Below a worker carrying a larva.

Below two larvae of the trapjaw ant Odontomachus simillimus.
Two larvae of the trapjaw ant Odontomachus simillimus
Below the gyne measuring 11mm.
The queen or gyne of Odontomachus simillimus.

Below the gyne of Odontomachus simillimus with her first egg.

The larva newly hatched. Ants use their front set of limbs as "hands".
The queen manipulating her larva with her "hands"
Eggs and larvae of Odontomachus simillimus eggs are surface adhesive. 
In the wild the foundess queen do not normally raise a very large first brood but supplied with good daily supply of protein rich food but kept nest can have more than ten pupae when the first worker eclosed.
Foundess queens (as in the case of most ants) will cannibalize the eggs and larvae to feed the larger larvae if food is not enough to feed all the growing larvae.

Odontomachus foundress queen and workers
Odontomachus foundress queen and workers.

In many (but not all) ants including Odontomachus simillimus and Odontoponera transversa, foundess queen generally tend to ignore cooked and raw meat (of chicken, beef, etc.) and tend to prefer other insects (including other ants) and arthropods.

The female alate of Odontmachus simillimus.
female alate of Odontmachus simillimus

Odontomachus rixosus the jumping trapjaw ant. This species is polygynous amd jumps. Aside from the ability to catapult itself by snapping it jaws shut on the ground or any hard surface as is common with most species in genus this species is able to jump a short height of 10 to 20 mm and a similar distance. Both workers and gyne are able to perform his hopping feat. Many species of large jungle (forest) ants are able to jump (or rather hop) a few millimeters.

A worker of the trapjaw ant Odontomachus rixosus.


An alate gyne of Odontomachus rixosus.

An alate male or drone of Odontomachus rixosus.

A dealated gyne of Odontomachus rixosus. This one partially lost one of its antennae through an encounter with Macrotermes carbonarius.

The delates gyne of Odontomachus rixosus.

The queen or gyne of Odontomachus rixosus in her nest.

The queen or gyne of Odontomachus rixosus in her nest.

A worker of Odontomachus rixosus. This most probable subspecies if you observe the partial head of the image above (and also the image below) the frontal teeth of the mandibles there appear to be only two whereas the earlier species post before this has three.
A worker of Odontomachus rixosus subspecies that appeared to have only two front teeth on each mandible. Also unlike the earlier speices this species does not jump.

Here above is a close-up image of the second Odontomachus rixosus species where two teeth on each mandible are apparant. But closer observation will reveal that there is actually three teeth only the middle tooth appears to be attached to the bottom tooth and not right in the middle in between the two teeth as in the first Odontomachus rixosus species shown in the close-up image below.
A close-up of the first species where a short middle tooth is right in the center between the two frontal teeth of the mandibles. 

Anochetus sp01

This species is slightly larger. They move in slow motion.

Anochetus sp02

The males or drones of this Anochestus species.
Males or drones of Anochestus ant

The males or drones of this Anochestus species.
Males or drones of Anochestus ant

A worker of Anochetus.

The workers of Anochetus  measuring around 4 millimeters.
Anochetus workers

Two workers and a larva.

The nest with eggs, larvae and pupae.
Anochetus  nest with eggs, larvae and pupae

A callow (top of photo), young adult ant newly emerged (eclosed) from its cocoon.

The gyne in the centre. The one with the thicker thorax region. Here the queen of Anochetus (center) with her ant workers.

The queen or gyne of Anochetus ant.
The queen or gyne of Anochetus ant.

The queen or gyne of Anochetus.

The whole nest of Anochetus numbering around a hundred individuals.
Whole nest of Anochetus numbering around a hundred individuals.

Anochestus sp04

 This species is slightly larger than sp03 above and also has a bulkier head.

Strumigenys sp1.  (This section of Strumigenys now has a new page on this genus).

This species moves in extreme slow motion.
Workers of the ant genus Strumigenys

Strumigenys sp2. 

This species is smaller and move at a faster pace. The queen or gyne of Strumigenys.

A gyne and a worker.

Queen of Strumigenys with larvae and pupae. 
Gyne of Strumigenys with a worker, larvae and pupae. 

Workers of Strumigenys with larvae and pupae. 

for Odontomachus and Anochetus (Strumigenys are Myrmicinae ants, and are in a separate post page)
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Arthropoda
Subphylum - Hexapoda
Class - Insecta
Subclass - Pterygota
Infraclass - Neoptera
Order - Hymenoptera
Suborder - Apocrita
Infraorder - Aculeata
Superfamily - Vespoidea
Family - Formicidae -- ants, fourmis
Subfamily - Ponerinae

1. Genus - Odontomachus
2. Genus - Anochetus

Last Updated: 2018 01 01
First Posted: 2009 09 10
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