Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher Starr


  • Eva SchultnerEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_15-1


In the context of an insect society, “brood” is the sum of immature individuals, which are usually dependent on parental and/or sibsocial care. In holometabolous social insects, which develop with complete metamorphosis (ants, social bees, social wasps, a few species of beetles), brood is typically used to describe all development stages prior to the imaginal molt: eggs, larvae, and pupae. Larvae are legless in both social beetles and social Hymenoptera larvae; however, social beetle larvae are not dependent on adult care and can forage for themselves. In hemimetabolous social insects, which develop with incomplete metamorphosis (termites, social aphids, gregarious cockroaches), the term brood in its strictest sense only applies to eggs. This is because older development stages (so-called nymphs) display adult morphologies, are not or only partially dependent on parental or sibsocial care, and, in termite societies, represent the worker/soldier castes. For these reasons,...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zoology/Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany