The concept

Protection of the superorganism

Social insect colonies are „superorganisms”. Like cells in a body, the different insects specialize on different tasks: queens and males reproduce, whilst the workers are typically sterile and perform colony maintenance tasks. Social immunity describes how these reproductive entities are protected from disease.

Read more on the emergence and evolution of social immunity and its parallels to the immune system of multicellular organisms:

Cremer et al 2007 Curr Biol
Cremer & Sixt 2009 Phil Trans Roy Soc B
Cremer et al 2018 Annu Rev Entomol


Review Article
Cremer S
(2019) Social immunity in insects
Current Biology

The concept

Sanitary care

Nest hygiene

Removing infection

Social immunisation

Organisational immunity