Every ant species is known for distinct abilities like flying, hopping, and jumping higher for different purposes. A few species of ants are capable of jumping and remaining in the air for a few seconds before coming back to the ground.
Can Ants Jump? Ants can jump as their legs and jaws support this behavior and help them navigate on leaves. It helps them in capturing prey and avoid predators. Moreover, they can overcome barriers like slippery surfaces by covering a distance of around 2 to 4 cm.
You probably have seen winged ants flying and remaining forage on the ground. In the same way, a few of them are capable of making loops in the air and returning quickly.
Why do ants jump?
It is impressive to see ants jumping at different locations, but it can be alarming sometimes as they usually show aggression through such movements.
To navigate on the leaves
The ant species living in forests prefer to build their houses close to a tree trunk. You can see them moving on the leaf litter at the base of trees while finding food.
Leaf litters contain a large population of ants because it provides sufficient moisture, food, and a shady environment for them to live a better life.
Accordingly, their jumping abilities help them move between the leaves, which can take more time, so they jump to make it quick navigation.
Additionally, this navigation process involves searching for the soil insects, invertebrates, and fruit droppings that can provide a good nutrition source.
To reach prey
It becomes easy for the tiny ants to reach their prey quickly before it gets out of sight. This is because they have an incredible power to jump and catch their prey before it leaves.
They have to attack beetles, spiders, butterflies, and even wasps that are larger and have bigger legs and wings.
Their prey can fly away quickly if they see it moving toward them as they have to protect themselves against attack.
However, they have large eyes that can help them locate their prey, and their legs support them to invade it quickly without giving any time for defensive measures.
To avoid predators
The legs and jaws of ants support their survival against predators as they help move away from the attacking insects.
The caterpillars and jumping spiders can attack them voraciously, so they have to be efficient in leaving the spot or making a bounce over predator bodies.
Therefore, they can quickly move to a different location by jumping on the leaves as they can leap off, which can help protect them from being swallowed.
To overcome barriers
The forest ground is full of small barriers that are enough to restrict the movement of ants or make them change their route sometimes.
Moreover, the presence of small plant twigs in their way makes them stop for a while, and they have to jump a little bit higher in the air to move forward.
They can easily go a few inches higher in the air to overcome the barriers that can be a water puddle or any other slippery surface that comes on their way.
Move away from invaders
Many people interfere with mounds or anthills, which can irritate them as they consider it a threat to their lives.
Moreover, they try to leave the mound quickly and leap down from the cliff after getting disturbed. Their primary instinct is to leave the dangerous spot as soon as possible to save themselves.
Most commonly, the abdomen movements help them show such behavior as they slightly move it upward to give a strong push to the front end.
They cannot get efficient leaps without abdominal movements as these upward movements allow them to cover a long distance.
How do ants jump?
Jumping in ants is based on legs and jaws that involve coordination among its body parts as the abdomen, legs, and jaws play a crucial role.
In addition, their eyes support by providing a good vision that helps estimate the landing spot and the distance.
Their legs are thin or spindly, which helps them take off from the ground and maintain stabilization on the landing spot.
They usually move their abdomen slightly upward towards the thorax when using their legs to make a higher or longer jump.
After that, their hind legs are moved higher than the thorax, and the front and middle legs remain in the air to get a grip on the next location.
It helps in precise landing as they know about the exact place where they have to reach. An abdominal rotation allows them to go higher and cover a long distance.
Furthermore, jaw jumping involves the role of jaws when they collect enough power in their jaws that they get a bounce after hitting a hard surface or another insect.
It makes them fly in the air after getting a bounce and then move to a different location randomly, which means these are not directional and land anywhere on the ground.
What type of ants can jump?
Every ant species is not capable of making a higher bounce as it requires specific legs and jaws that can support bodies.
Amazonian ant is known for leg jumping, which uses bigger legs to cover a long distance. Moreover, the trap-jaw ants have both strong legs and jaws that can help them show such behavior.
The jack jumper ants, usually found in Australia and Tasmania, use pinchers and legs to bounce at a distance of almost 10 to 14 mm.
Furthermore, leaf litter ants and a few other carnivorous insects are capable of jaw-snapping jumps when they open their jaws at almost 170 to 180 degrees and go a few inches higher in the air.
Some can efficiently gain balance and stabilize themselves, while a few reach a landing place on their backs as they have no control over it.
How far can ants jump?
The vertical and horizontal distance covered by jumping ants depends on their weight, size, and mode, as they can reach a good height during jaw jumping.
Their jaws can generate a force around 200 to 300 times more than their actual body weight, giving a good bounce to their bodies.
Moreover, they can cover a horizontal distance of almost 0.78 to 1.6 inches within a short time if they are showing abdominal movements.
They can also reach a vertical height of almost 5 to 8 cm after getting a thrust from the abdomen or jaws.
However, leaf litter ants can cover a longer distance as their jaws allow them to reach a distance of almost 12 to 15 cm horizontally.
Furthermore, the maximum velocities for takeoff usually observed in these insects are almost 0.5 to 0.7 m/s. So, they can launch themselves into the air using their legs or jaws to make their lives easier.