Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher K. Starr

Parasites and Pathogens

  • Paul Schmid-HempelEmail author
  • Sylvia Cremer
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_94-1

The Kinds and Diversity of Parasites

Like any other organism, social insects are hosts to a variety of parasites, a general term meaning encompassing not only parasites in the strict sense (usually reserved for multicellular organisms, such as helminths) but also pathogens (usually meaning microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and protozoans, as well as fungi of all sizes). In the best investigated social insects, such as the western honey bee, many dozens of parasite species have been described, and multiple infections by different genotypes of the same parasite species are common. All major groups of organisms are known to be parasitic on social insects [12]. Moreover, in various contexts, such as when discussing the spread of parasites in host populations, a distinction is made by how their spread is analyzed, which, to some degree, parallels that between parasites (s. str.) and pathogens. In this terminology, “microparasites” are small parasites that generate infections with...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Integrative Biology (IBZ)ETH ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria)KlosterneuburgAustria