Social insects (i.e., ants, termites and the social bees and wasps) protect their colonies from disease using a combination of individual immunity and collectively performed defenses, termed social immunity. The first line of social immune defense is sanitary care, which is performed by colony members to protect their pathogen-exposed nestmates from developing an infection. If sanitary care fails and an infection becomes established, a second line of social immune defense is deployed to stop disease transmission within the colony and to protect the valuable queens, which together with the males are the reproductive individuals of the colony. Insect colonies are separated into these reproductive individuals and the sterile worker force, forming a superorganismal reproductive unit reminiscent of the differentiated germline and soma in a multicellular organism. Ultimately, the social immune response preserves the germline of the superorganism insect colony and increases overall fitness of the colony in case of disease.
Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior
Cremer S, Kutzer M. Social immunity. In: Choe J, ed. Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior. 2nd ed. Elsevier; 2019:747-755. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-809633-8.90721-0
Cremer, S., & Kutzer, M. (2019). Social immunity. In J. Choe (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (2nd ed., pp. 747–755). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809633-8.90721-0
Cremer, Sylvia, and Megan Kutzer. “Social Immunity.” In Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, edited by Jae Choe, 2nd ed., 747–55. Elsevier, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809633-8.90721-0.
S. Cremer and M. Kutzer, “Social immunity,” in Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, 2nd ed., J. Choe, Ed. Elsevier, 2019, pp. 747–755.
Cremer S, Kutzer M. 2019. Social immunity. Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior. 747–755.
Cremer, Sylvia, and Megan Kutzer. “Social Immunity.” Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, edited by Jae Choe, 2nd ed., Elsevier, 2019, pp. 747–55, doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-809633-8.90721-0.