Common name: 'Mang Man' (Thai name)
The very small pale yellow workers of this species are only about 1.5 mm in size, and are dwarfed by their comparatively massive orange / red queens which are 2 cm.
Alates fly in the early evening at the start of the rainy season - usually a day after heavy rain. The new queens found colonies independently, digging deep into the moist ground where they construct a small round foundation chamber. Because of the size difference between the queen and the workers the initial brood raised by a healthy queen can be in the region of 500+ workers, which is a very large brood for a queen to raise without any additional food.
New queens dislike disturbance and don’t seem to like artificial foundation nests. In captivity if kept in artificial nests they will frequently abort their initial brood and subsequently die. Some success however has been obtained by keeping them in small containers of earth until they have raised their first workers, – then when the queen has a good workforce to care for her and the brood, the young colony can be moved into an artificial set up.
In the wild they construct large nests deep in the ground usually near the tangled roots of trees. The small workers forage via underground tunnels and 'maybe' outside at night under surface leaf litter. The central part of their nests seems to be constructed of fine soil particles bound together by saliva and has a delicate cardboard type texture.
Their exact food source is unknown but expected to be the secretions from root aphis and small insects that live underground such as termites. I have occasionally seen workers out on the soil surface at night - which presumably may have be foraging for dead insects and drops of fallen honeydew.
There is very little information available on cultivating this species and colonies seem to be quite difficult to establish. Hence they are only recommended for very experienced hobbyists.
This is a species that does not seem to have been raised and successfully kept in captivity past the initial foundation stage. It is a challenge even for experienced keepers. However, if someone does succeed in cultivating these - the colony would be very impressive.
Summery: A challenge – and only recommended for very experienced hobbyists.