Based on my (limited) understanding, some types of animals use the power of numbers for protection. I assume, then, some species instinctively respond to threat by immediately seeking out and joining their group/hive/pack, not just to hide or get lost within the group (eg., school of fish), but to also take advantage of the power of the organized group (eg., swarm of bees).

Is this correct? If so, what are some examples?

[Note: It is my understanding that bees don't flee to their hive in response to threat, but rather sting and release a pheromone to draw the other bees to the area and create a swarm.]


1 Answer 1


The specific description you have made is almost the definition of mobbing behaviour. Some animal species protect each other and especially their offspring by cooperatively attacking and harassing a predator. Individuals can't cope with the predator alone, but by working together they increase the chance of discouraging the predator.

African buffaloes, bison, gulls show mobbing behaviour.

Wikipedia article

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds article

  • $\begingroup$ That's a great lead, although mobbing seems to be more like a bee's behavior, which is initially aggressive. I'm curious if there are animals who retreat to the safety and protection of their group prior to being aggressive. $\endgroup$
    – Jonathan
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ If you're referring to a behavioral pattern consists of "flight-incorporate into group-organise counterattack", there's not a classification for this. These are different behaviors. A baboon or buffalo flights, joins to its group and joins a counterattack which is mobbing. That kind of high level behaviour which there's an organisation of an attack can be only found in wars between groups of same species; e.g., chimpanzees. But I don't think that it's interpreted as a behavior triggered by a threat; rather it's interpreted as a part of competition. Humans orga $\endgroup$
    – serekani
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ Humans organize attacks on threats after one of them has been attacked by a predator or else, but this counterattack is a decision, not a certain response. $\endgroup$
    – serekani
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ I should clarify. I don't mean a retreat to produce a coordinated attack, but two different responses to a threat depending on whether the organism is alone or in a group. If alone, the organism would retreat to the safety of the group. If in a group, the group itself responds to threat via a "coordinated" attack like mobbing. I'm guessing this doesn't exist? $\endgroup$
    – Jonathan
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 2:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .