Bug Blog

Insects Will Sometimes Die to Save Another Insect

We humans are capable of showing altruistic behavior, especially if we are making sacrifices for our children.  This makes sense because we want to make sure that our genes are passed on to the next generation.  Other primate animals have also demonstrated altruistic behavior, such as gibbons and apes.  But certainly this is because humans and their close relatives are more mentally advanced.  But this is not necessarily the best way to think about this topic since altruistic behavior makes sense on an evolutionary level.  Since bugs are a product of evolution then do they show signs of altruistic behavior?

Scientists now believe they have spotted clear evidence that suggests altruistic behavior is demonstrated in insects as well as more advanced animals.  Ants, wasps, bees, and termites all have sterile workers that do not exist to look after themselves, but to ensure that the queen and her offspring are not harmed.  For example, bees show altruistic behavior simply by stinging an enemy.  This is because the bee’s stinger is barbed and cannot be removed once it has attacked another animal in an effort to defend the queen bee.  So the next time a bee stings you remember that it just made the ultimate sacrifice.

Can you think of other animals that demonstrate altruistic behavior?