The Insect Societies

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $5.92
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 95%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (10) from $5.92   
  • New (2) from $84.34   
  • Used (8) from $5.92   


View a collection of videos on Professor Wilson entitled "On the Relation of Science and the Humanities"

This book is a work of major importance for the development of environmental and behavioral biology; it covers the classification, evolution, anatomy, physiology, and behavior of the higher social insects--ants, social wasps and bees, and termites. Mr. Wilson reinterprets the knowledge of these insects through the concepts of modern biology, from biochemistry to evolutionary theory and population ecology.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review - Caryl F. Haskins
In comprehensiveness of scope and modernity of outlook The Insect Societies can truly be said to be unique. For many years to come it will surely constitute a benchmark for all those, professional and amateur alike, for whom the social insects offer one of the most compelling and fascinating pageants in all the world of nature. The book is likely to become a collector's item.
Science - O. W. Richards
The Insect Societies gives an extraordinarily complete and up-to-date account of the natural history of social insects with their great proliferation of genera, species, and behavioral types...In these fields modern genetics, selection theory, and biomathematics are being developed to explain the evolution of insect societies and their diversity both in size and in longevity. This is one of the growing points in the study of social insects and an undertaking to which Wilson is making important contributions.
Scientific American
No book on biology in the past 20 years has been as satisfying as this treatise on ants, bees, wasps and termites...It is written with clarity and verve, but what distinguishes it particularly is its catholic mastery of all of biology, from paleontology to formal genetics, from ethology to biochemistry. Nothing less can be an adequate basis for the study of our social colleagues on this earth, and nothing less has its courageous and energetic author settled for. Biology is a whole science, and here it is wholly seen...It is so honest and yet so rich that it attracts and holds by the scent of understanding.
Nature - R. A. Crowson
The book is well illustrated, and written in a clear direct style, with such specialist technical terms as Wilson feels obliged to uses explained in a glossary; evidently he is anxious to reach a wider audience than that provided by professional entomologists--as indeed the book deserves to do...This handsome book will undoubtedly be widely read and influential.
Natural History - Mary Jane West Eberhard
If only because of the rarity of the event and the stature of the author...The Insect Societies must be considered a work of major importance. It is certain to influence the focus of research as well as the content of public information on the social insects for years to come...For anyone, layman or specialists, interested in a single, concise, lucid, and authoritative account of the most significant facts and theories about insect societies, The Insect Societies is the best available and will be for many years.
Caryl Haskin
For many years to come it will surely constitute a benchmark for all those, professional and amateur alike, for whom the social insects offer one of the most compelling and fascinating pageants in all the world of nature.
The New York Times Book Review
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674454903
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1971
  • Pages: 562
  • Product dimensions: 8.78 (w) x 10.29 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward O. Wilson is Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University. In addition to two Pulitzer Prizes (one of which he shares with Bert Hölldobler), Wilson has won many scientific awards, including the National Medal of Science and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Importance of Social Insects

2. The Degrees of Social Behavior

3. The Social Wasps

4. The Ants

5. The Social Bees

6. The Termites

7. The Presocial Insects

8. Caste: Ants

9. Caste: Social Bees and Wasps

10. Caste: Termites

11. The Elements of Behavior

12. Communication: Alarm and Assembly

13. Communication: Recruitment

14. Communication: Recognition, Food Exchange, and Grooming

15. Group Effects and the Control of Nestmates

16. Social Homeostasis and the Superorganism

17. The Genetic Theory of Social Behavior

18. Compromise and Optimization in Social Evolution

19. Symbioses among Social Insects

20. Symbioses with Other Arthropods

21. The Population Dynamics of Colonies

22. The Prospect for a Unified Sociobiology




Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)