Workers of this species are 6 - 8 mm in size, brown in colour with an attractive golden sheen banding on their abdomen.
They are an active and aggressive species, especially when their nest is threatened. They have two sharp spines on their thorax to protect them from predators, are equipped with powerful mandibles and are able to eject formic acid. They also have good eyesight and if you disturb their nest, they will charge out of the entrances and take up a threatening stance supported on their back legs. This is their natural aggression pose, and the ant bends her abdomen beneath her and forwards towards the predator/intruder.
They are impressive hunters and are not afraid of taking down prey of any size, a mass of workers will surround and pin down their victims, while other workers spray formic acid onto the prey and attempt to cut through its limbs and body.
They are easy to feed and accept most food offerings, readily taking dead insects and sweet substances. Colony increase is directly related to the amount of food given, and if fed well and cared for correctly the colony will increase in size very quickly.
They build arboreal carton type nests constructed from pieces of plant debris, held together with silk spun from their larvae. The nest is usually located low down attached to the stems of plants/shrubs in thick vegetation. In captivity, they will also build their nests attached to stones and pieces of bark. To observe them constructing a natural nest you will need to supply them with substrate debris in the form of dried grass, wood shavings, moss etc.
Queens are 10 mm and can found colonies independently. They will often raise their first brood in a curled-up leaf, but once they have about 50 workers, they will start to create a carton like nest. Once established, colonies will readily accept new queens back into the nest, and mature colonies can contain between 2 - 3000 workers and 10 - 20 queens.
They look impressive displayed in natural habitat setups. Ideally, their outworld/habitat area should be landscaped with a shallow layer of humus covered with various plant debris, and designed with a network of interconnecting small branches which they can climb, and where they will construct their nest.
With careful planning, you can arrange their habitat to provide the most favourable nesting places against the side of the outworld. Cover the outside of these selected areas with a dark cover to encourage them to nest there. Then if they build their nest in the required place, you can simply lift off the cover to observe the colonies activity inside their nest.
Summary: This is a popular attractive ant that is well suited to captivity. They breed quickly, are easy to maintain and take a wide range of food. A good choice for those just starting to keep exotics.
However, be careful as they are quite aggressive and think nothing of attacking a finger! They are also good at climbing and very apt at escaping from their enclosures.