Insect intelligence (or not)

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After completing an upper level entomology class (that was fascinating) (but tough!)... I overheard two of my classmates speculating on insect intelligence.   

They are, by sheer numbers, the dominant creatures on planet earth.    The have survived, adapted, and thrived longer than other animals.   They have proven they  can be altruistic, and some live in complex societies.   

Are they intelligent?


They are strategic in warfare, brutal in hunting, loyal in colonies, brilliant in engineering, and effective in communications.  They can triage wounded members in battle, and haul back likely survivors.   They can “mind control” victims, go on raiding parties for slaves, and coerce others to raise their young.


But are they intelligent?   Sentient?



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One interesting view I heard was that the individual insects were largely automata, but that the hive (/swarm/colony) had some degree of intelligence.



On another note, I believe bacteria (and probably other microorganisms) vastly outnumber the insects.


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