This is an attractively colored Asian species with a red head and black / grey body. They are large ants with queens that are 17-20 mm and workers between 11-13 mm, and they also have a very large impressive major caste that is a similar size to the queens at 17-18 mm.
While searching for more information on this species I noticed that although there are plenty of journals regard their keeping, very little info is available on their natural wild nests and habitat. From what we know their colonies are quite large often between 500-1000 individuals. Some researchers state the workers tend to forage in the upper story of large forest trees, where they seek out the secretions of sap sucking insects. Confirming this I have seen trails of workers ascending trees at night, but have also found them foraging over the ground where they will take live and dead insects.
It has been stated that they will create nests in trees in old dead wood, however I have found colonies nesting in the gaps between large rocks on cliff faces, and on the ground in very rocky areas, usually in the cracks between large boulders. The nesting sites chosen are usually between boulders so large that they are immoveable and provide the ants with good protection from would be predators.
They are mainly nocturnal and tend to forage at night when day predators like birds are not active. However, in low light conditions they will also show activity during the day. In captivity they will feed on a sugar / water or honey mix and dead insects. Interestingly this species also emits a distinct sweet floral type aroma when handled or threatened. They are active year-round and do not need a rest period, although in their natural habitat there is a distinct cool season with night temperatures around 12-15 degrees centigrade which lasts for about two months.
Previously most of the queens and colonies of this species reached the trade from the Chinese wholesalers and the stocks fertility was a bit dubious, with many reported infertile queens and colonies failing to rear any new brood. The queens and colonies I am offering are all collected from Thailand and as such will bring a new gene pool into cultivation. They have all been kept in captivity for a minimum time of one complete brood cycle – some much longer, confirming that the queens are fertile.
This species is not easy to establish from just new queens as they are a bit temperamental at the foundation stage, and will frequently consume their brood if disturbed. With this in mind we would recommend you consider buying a small foundation colony to ensure success. Once they have a workforce of about fifty, they will develop quickly.
Due to their slow development in the initial stage foundation queens are only recommended for the more experienced hobbyists. Young colonies are easier to care for, and should respond well for the average hobbyist.