The workers of this species are about a cm in size and have an unusual deep matt black colour. Their Latin species name ‘armarta’ is a very appropriate description of them, as the workers have a strong armour-clad appearance.
They live in deciduous forest habitats where they form long trails foraging in trees and along the ground. They feed on any dead insects they can find, and secretions of sap-sucking insects.
They have two long ‘thorns’ at the back of their thorax which helps protect them from predators such as lizards and birds. If a predator attempts to eat an ant the thorns get stuck in the predator’s mouth, and they are then usually spat out. Because they are protected by their spine’s they are able to forage during the day, when many other species hide in fear of predators such as birds.
The queens are just slightly larger than the workers and found colonies independently. They will start their colony under a piece of loose bark, inside a curled leaf, or in a small chamber in rotten wood. When their eggs hatch the queens will frequently leave their foundation chamber to forage. Sometimes queens will group together to form colonies.
As the colony increases in size, they will move higher up the tree and create a carton type nest, constructed with chewed up bark and pieces of plant debris. Mature nests can be the size of a football and are usually found attached to the side of trees or inside hollow logs. They are well camouflaged and blend in with the tree’s natural trunk colour and form.
Colonies can have multiple queens and mature colonies will have around a thousand workers. When a colony is disturbed, the workers rush out and attack, ejecting formic acid and the repugnant smell will repulse most predators.
Due to their natural arboreal habit, in captivity, their foraging area should be landscaped with a network of small branches. They can adapt to artificial observation nests, but these are best supported off the ground, preferably wedged amongst some of the stronger branches.
Summary: An easy species to keep and feed, which is a good size and an unusual deep matt colour.
However: Their preference to ‘nest’ off the ground means that you can not use the normal type of artificial nests to house them.