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.