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Insect social structure

Some insects, notably ants and some bees, display the highest level of organisation in their social structure. This structure is called eusociality and it involves a population whose individuals are reproductive or non-reproductive, and undertake different roles based on a caste system.

There may be a queen and a king who are solely reproductive, such as in termites. The rest of the population are sterile workers whose job it is to provide food by foraging and other tasks, as well as individuals tasked with defence of the colony. The roles are so strongly established, that the huge jaws of the defensive termites prevent them from being able to feed themselves. Thankfully, and perhaps a testament to the rationale and success of eusociality, the worker termites can feed them.

Unlike communication between primates, insect communication within the social group is achieved by innate behaviours.

Other characteristics of this type of insect social structure include the presence of multiple generations of individuals overlapping in the colony, and workers looking after offspring that are not their own.

Since they are unlikely to even be able to reproduce themselves, this is not surprising. The division of labour in the colony means that while the queen is taking over the reproductive function on behalf of all members, all others carry out the non-reproductive duties.

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