Insect Societies Have A Lot to Teach About Healthy Social Living

Ants Macro on Green Leaves, Naypong Studio – stock.adobe.com

Agriculture is widely considered the start of humanity living in large, closely inhabited settlements as opposed to small nomadic tribes. With any behavioral change, there is a cost-benefit. We are currently experiencing a real-time cost-benefit of living in an agricultural society with the development of the coronavirus pandemic. Social living has increased humanity’s ability to do just about everything including pathogen (bacterium, virus, disease causing microorganism) transmission.

However, humanity is not the only agricultural society successfully living on Earth today. If we look closely—very closely—there are tiny, yet massively populated societies facing the same pathogen transmission challenges.

Some of these societies have developed unique strategies to protect themselves—like a certain species of aphids whose soldiers explode their abdomens to seal and defend their colony from disease threats.

Others employ versions that we see in human communities, like developing a diverse gut microbiome for strong immune systems.

Taking a closer look at social insect models could be the key to unlocking more effective human strategies for pathogen management.

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