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Costa Rica to Brazil.
Tranopelta gilva are pale, subterranean ants that are never seen foraging on the surface. In the field their general habitus is very similar to the formicine genus Acropyga. Very little is known of the biology. Workers are most often found under rocks in clay soil in lowland rainforest. They may also occur in Winkler and Berlese samples of leaf litter from the forest floor. In Costa Rica I have collected T. gilva at four sites: La Selva Biological Station, 500m elevation on the Barva Transect above La Selva, Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve, and near Ciudad Neily in the southern Pacific lowlands. At La Selva I once observed a populous colony under the loose bark of a rotten log in primary forest. Knots of workers and uniformly-sized brood were in scattered piles, distributed across at least 2m of the log length.
Queens are very large, dramatically larger than the workers. Most queens are collected at lights.
Found most commonly in these habitats: 414 times found in mature wet forest, 63 times found in montane wet forest, 9 times found in tropical rainforest, 1 times found in Puesto #4,43G,10m., 1 times found in Puesto#1,84G, 10m, 1 times found in Puesto #1,29G,10m., 1 times found in Puesto16, 333g, 10m., 1 times found in Puesto17,124G,10m., 1 times found in Trampa4,101G. 10m., 1 times found in Puesto17,60G,10m., ...
Collected most commonly using these methods or in the following microhabitats: 418 times MiniWinkler, 55 times Berlese, 61 times Mini Winkler, 12 times Winkler, 5 times search, 4 times MaxiWinkler, 3 times flight intercept trap, 3 times Pitfall, 2 times Search & Berles, 2 times Blacklight, 1 times Stomach of great-billed tern (Phaetusa chloropoda), ...
Elevations: collected from 20 - 500 meters, 128 meters average