Colobopsis leonardi (Gate-Keeper Ant)
The famous Gate-Keeper Ant is a shiny, medium sized, relatively fast growing species of arboreal ant from the tropical rainforests of South East Asia.
Colonies are often found residing within decaying branches of wood (i.e., Rambutan trees), which are often hollow. These structures provide ideal microclimates for this species of ant to thrive. Mature colonies tend to be polydomous (occupy more than one nesting site) and can reach several thousand individuals.
Colobopsis leonardi gets its famous name 'Gate-Keeper Ant' due to the interesting morphology it has. Specifically its head which is flattened at the front. This physical adaptation enables both queens and larger major workers to seal off nest entrances when danger is detected. Much like 'Turtle ants' of the genus Cephalotes spp.
Unlike many other ant species, worker ants of this colony tend to have a different approach to foraging for prey. Instead of relying on several workers to carry larger sized insects to the nest, these will often dismember their prey into smaller parts which are then single handedly taken by individual workers into the nest.
If you thought that was interesting, it gets even more fascinating! C.leonardi belong to a group of ants called Colobpsis cylindrica which are a set of ants that rely on a particular defense mechanism. Workers of this 'exploding ants' group, will bend their gasters with a large amount of pressure which triggers a release of toxic chemicals upon their predator!
In captivity, colonies do well in a range of artifical and wooden nests. Temperatures should reflect those of a tropical climate between 24-27C and a relative humidity of 50-60%.
It is illegal and strictly frowned upon to release any non-native ants into the wild.