Most insects are solitary. However, there are also social insects: ants, bees, bumblebees, wasps, termites.
Social insects live in organized groups (families). The community of these insects is one large overgrown family. There are separate groups in the family that perform different functions: they collect food, share it with each other, take care of the larvae, and guard the nest. Family members are not able to live in isolation from each other.
Red forest ants
Red forest ants live in large families in anthills, consisting of an aboveground part and an underground nest.
The largest population of anthills is made up of wingless worker ants (sterile females). Their number sometimes reaches a million. They get food, repair and clean the anthill, take care of cocoons with pupae, feed the larvae, and defend the anthill in the event of an enemy attack.
Ants communicate by touching each other with antennae, legs and head. In addition, they have a “chemical language” – they secrete special substances that mark their paths. Ants recognize relatives and enemies by smell.
The lifestyle of ants indicates that they have instincts.
Instinct is a chain of complex reflexes.
In the depths of the nest there is a female – a queen. She has no wings (she breaks them off after a mating flight). All her life she lays eggs, and all the care of the anthill lies with the working ants.
Once a year, in late spring – early summer, young winged females and males emerge from pupae and mate. After mating, the males die, and the females sink to the ground, shed their wings and establish a new nest. They often end up in the same anthill in which their development took place.
The honey bee is also a social insect. A honeybee has long been bred by humans. A person receives wax, honey, various medicines (propolis, bee venom, royal jelly) from bees. Honey bees live in large families (up to 100 thousand individuals), which live in a hive.
A bee colony consists of a fetal queen (a female that lays up to 2000 eggs per day), males (drones) and a large number of worker bees (sterile females). Worker bees build combs, clean cells, feed larvae, ventilate the hive, collect nectar, and guard the hive from enemies. The family of bees is called a swarm. The queen lives for about five years, worker bees for about a year.
In the spring, in May-June, a new queen and several dozen males – drones appear in the bee colony from pupae (males do not take part in the work, their task is to fertilize the queen). The old female with a part of the working bees leaves the hive – swarming takes place. The beekeepers collect the swarm and put it in a new hive. In the fall, worker bees drive the remaining drones out of the hive and they die.
Bees communicate with each other, like ants, through touch and secreted substances. Bees also have a “language of dance”. With the help of special movements and movements, one bee can tell others where flowering plants rich in nectar are.
The behavior of social insects is so complex that it leads many people to think that they are intelligent. However, these actions of animals are instinctive, unconscious. The complex behavior of social insects is called instinctive, because instinct is a set of innate forms of behavior that are hereditarily fixed and inherent in a particular type of animal.