Environmental Regulation By Groups Of Insects

Insects are relatively small animals, with high surface-to-volume ratios. Because of this, they readily lose body heat or water to the environment (or gain heat if the ambient temperature is high). However, a few species of insects form large groups that are able to exert some control over these processes. The most striking examples of this come from the social insects (the wasps, ants, bees, and termites), but some other insects also form groups that enhance homeostasis (Fig. 1).

The control of groups of insects over heat exchange may take two forms. First, they may form a cluster that effectively makes them more similar collectively to larger organisms. If the surface-to-volume ratio is of a cluster of insects rather than an individual, it has a smaller value, and heat exchange is slower. Second, most social insects construct nests, and the architecture of these nests can result in the interior environment being substantially different from the ambient environment outside the nest.

Honey Bees

Honey bees exhibit both of the above strategies. Honey bees (Apis spp.) arose in the tropics, but A. mellifera and A. cerana

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