social insect

noun

: an insect (such as a termite or bee) that lives in a colony or community with other individuals of the same species
… a number of other entomologists prefer to view ant colonies and the societies of other social insects as more like superorganisms than communities of individualized organisms.Robert L. O'Connell
The evolution of worker behavior in the social insects is usually explained by kin selection: although workers do not produce offspring, they do reproduce their genes by aiding the reproduction of relatives.David C. Queller et al.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web One explanation, says Parker, could be the practice of age polyethism found in social insect colonies. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 5 Feb. 2016 Most social insect colonies have complex systems for dividing up tasks. Michael Schulson, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2020 Most social insect colonies have complex systems for dividing up tasks. Michael Schulson, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2020 Most social insect colonies have complex systems for dividing up tasks. Michael Schulson, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2020 Most social insect colonies have complex systems for dividing up tasks. Michael Schulson, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2020 Most social insect colonies have complex systems for dividing up tasks. Michael Schulson, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2020 Most social insect colonies have complex systems for dividing up tasks. Michael Schulson, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2020 Most social insect colonies have complex systems for dividing up tasks. Michael Schulson, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'social insect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1847, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of social insect was in 1847

Dictionary Entries Near social insect

Cite this Entry

“Social insect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social%20insect. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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