Trap-jaw ants, open and closed

trap-jaw ant
Odontomachus rixosus

A perk of being in Urbana is the accessibility of Andy Suarez’s University of Illinois ant lab. Yesterday, I borrowed a few of grad student Fred Larabee’s trap-jaw ants for a studio shoot. I was mostly aiming for stylized portraits like that above, but I couldn’t pass up capturing the ants with their trademark mandibles open and closed:

Odontomachus rixosus, mandibles open (top), with trigger hairs visible, and closed (bottom).

These and other new images are now posted in my galleries.

What’s the deal with trap-jaw ants? Have a look:

9 thoughts on “Trap-jaw ants, open and closed”

  1. Alex, the portrait shot is amazing! How did you get the reflection? Mirror? Glass? And the black? Is there such a thing as a black box?

  2. Excellent as always!
    And a third question: How do you get the ants so clean? I know ants are meticulously clean but they cant be this clean, atleast not out in the wild… or?
    Do you clone-tool away small defects, hairs, dust etc?

    1. This particular ant was extremely clean to begin with, Alex. The glass underneath it was the real trouble for this shoot. I had to clean it a few times with windex, then I used an air blower every few minutes to remove new dust that had fallen. And I still had to clone out some dust. Here is the original capture:

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