Week 5 - Colonial (Social) Insects

Social insects are likely some of the most well known species of insects. The bees which provide us with so many resources, the ants which seem to dominate every environment they exist in, and termites that act as a force of nature on their own. How did working together evolve, and what benefits may this form of existence have? So all social insects have the same structure? In the following readings, you will learn more about social insects, which you will then interpret and contribute to the focus questions below:

Readings and Content:


Focus Questions:

  1. What are the differences between "truly social" insects and partially social insects?
  2. What is a superorganism, and are there other examples of these in nature?
  3. Why could an ant colony be said to be "genius"?
  4. How did social insects evolve?
Want to get crazier? Join this Speculative Evolution conversation:

What would happen if suddenly, eusocial hive-builders were the only animals on Earth? Bees, ants, termites, symbiotic aphids, some wasps, and a few ambrosia beetles would represent the entire animal kingdom. All other animals disappear, leaving these "insect societies" with an entire planet to colonize, and no vertebrate predators.

Colonial insects have already evolved some of the most sophisticated strategies in nature. Building ventilated nests, developing into soldier and worker castes, herding aphids, hunting in military formations, literally exploding to defend their colonies, and a myriad of other complex behaviors.

If their only competitors were other hive organisms, evolving better and better strategies for cooperation and survival, and more and more advanced swarm intelligence just how complex and adaptive could they become? Could they approach sentience?

Which groups would be first to recolonize rivers and oceans?

Could they reclaim the roles of vertebrates?

Would any new morphs, castes, and specializations evolve among hive insects?

Visit the original thread to see some other answers...

Last modified: Tuesday, 17 November 2015, 2:51 AM