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Trophallaxis facts for kids

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Trophallaxis in weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina, Thailand.

Trophallaxis in biology refers the sharing of food by members of a community.

It is most highly developed in social insects such as ants, termites, wasps and bees. The word was introduced by the entomologist William Morton Wheeler in 1918. The behaviour has been used to explain theories of how social behaviour developed in insects. The French psychologist and entomologist August Forel also believed that food sharing was key to ant society. He used an illustration of it as the frontispiece for his book The social world of the ants compared with that of man.

Trophallaxis serves as a means of communication, at least in bees and ants. In some species of ants, it may play a role in spreading the colony odour that identifies members.

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