The trap jaw ant (Odontomachus haematodus), originally from South America, was first recorded in Alabama 50 years ago. Although this ant is known to be aggressive and invasive, it was thought that the species hadn’t spread much. However, new surveys show that trap jaw ants have been on the move in recent years and have now spread across the Gulf Coast states.

Trap jaw ants have wide jaws that snap shut (hence the name “trap jaw”) with such incredible force and speed that it can stun their prey. Their bite is among the fastest known movements in the animal kingdom, with a speed of up to 143 mph. When threatened, trap-jaw ants fire their jaws at the ground, which pushes the ant upward with such force that it hurls them up like popcorn out of a frying pan.

These ants also have a stinger that is capable of inflicting a painful sting. They are likely to become an increasingly common pest in the future.